Character, not Caricature


“When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature.”

—Ernest Hemingway

I came across this quote today and I rather like it.  Often when I start writing a character, he/she is based on something—an idea, a person or character I’ve met, a goal—but as I write, I find that the characters take on a life of their own and become something completely different from what I started with.  The character has his own wants and needs and ideas.  Sometimes his plans are different from what I want them to be and I have to dig in deep to discover the character and figure out what he wants.  Sometimes he surprises me.  It can be hard to let go of my preconceived notions about the character, but when I do and let the character be that real person with a life and everything of his own, that’s when I get really interested in him and in what I’m writing and that’s when the character becomes real and writing his story is as much an act of discovery as creation.  It’s one of the best things about writing.



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