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Character Development #ROW80

February 1, 2015 , , , ,

ROW80

ROW80

By joining the Round of Words in 80 Days writers I have been given the opportunity to peek into the process used by different people. Initially revealing goals, and now following the theme for 80 days of pursuit of those goals, we let each other know how our lives are proceeding. Some have chosen more personal ideals, and others are achieving astonishing numbers of words/outlines/rewrites and characters developed. I am impressed with all of the participants, and have started to think more about character development.  I have not done this, but am now seeing the merit of telling stories of well-developed characters.  From fairy tales to murder mysteries the characters hold our attention, and in some cases can bring about new stories or a series of tales. I live tweeted Downton Abbey last week and find it highly amusing to see how emotional the audience is about the characters.  I also noticed that my own poetry is void of any characters.  I make it all about the cosmos, memory, psyche, all very general and without personality.  I need to work on this aspect of my poems.

There are three levels of character development I can identify in this challenge:

  • Public commitment as well as confession of failures.  This unifying act makes us responsible to our goals and the shared experience. This builds character of the core personal kind. It is needed to build a foundation of discipline and high standards.
  • Players in a fictional story, or historical figures in biography must be “fleshed out” in order to hold the interest of the gentle reader.  I think it is also helpful to imagine the gentle reader as a character to encourage a bond between the two. This kind of development is needed to give writing more substance, dimension and detail.
  • The genre in which one creates has a character that is distinct from others.  I notice some writers in this group write in more than one genre, which I admire.  Expanding beyond one to another is a creative stretch that requires practice and consideration.  I am, and have been, in the scribe mode, writing just the facts.  Now that I am making poetry I need to add emotional and artistic value to it.  I need to develop the character of my poems.

These three have all been at work in my life this week.  I have been reading about Dorothy Parker, her life and times. Her character has been made larger than life since the internet.  It dawned on me that Mrs Parker was a feminist in the early 20th century.  She was a contemporary of my grandmother Olga, who got a masters in education and taught shorthand and typing.  I was thinking about how odd it must have been to have no vote and be better educated than your husband.  I wondered if Olga read Dorothy in Vanity Fair.  I still prefer Mrs. Parker as my muse in poetry, but I must admit my grandmother was a feminist in a different part of the country.  They were both strong characters, but I have real memories of Olga.  I did write a poem about my grandmother, although it is short and sweet.  This whole process has brought me to think it is very wise for me to use these characters in my family tree about whom I know so much.  They inhabit my dreams and imagination, so I might as well use them as characters in my poems.  I have written plenty about the facts in their lives, but I could focus on a more essential theme.

I gave myself two poetry days off this week, which I regret.  I took a birthday holiday.  This aspect goes back to number one on the list above, discipline and character.  It is actually pleasurable to write a poem each day.  The mindset that tells me I deserve a day off from this grueling task is quite bogus. I don’t plan to make up in penance for the lapse, or enhance guilt over this.  I do notice that some silly side of my psyche wants to claim that poetry is hard and working on it is, oh my, such a burden on my important schedule.  This is obviously rubbish made by some shadow character.  I reject the claims of this looser.  That character will not be developed. I will write about this poetic couple on the left in the photo below:

My grandparents on a double date

My grandparents on a double date

What do you think?

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comments

Ooh, interesting. I wrote poetry when I was in school, but I never thought about the character of the poems. I also am not sure why I stopped writing poetry… huh. Lots to think about.

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Nicole

February 1, 2015

I totally agree with your theme and points. I agree with all that clarifications.. and likely there is struggle for everyone on this.

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Stevie Wilson (@LAStory)

February 1, 2015

I love that you are focusing more on character development. Dorothy Parker was a very interesting character and one of the few women in the Round Table. It must have been interesting to be part of a group where women were allowed in to speak their mind. I am sure the men were surprised and what Parker had to say with her wit, metier and sarcasm.

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Stevie Wilson (@LAStory)

February 5, 2015

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