Books -- reading and writing.
Home, cooking, the weather.
And whatever connections I can make between these chapters of my life.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Dreaming up characters? Telling stories?

This morning two quotes came to me quite serendipidously.

The first reminded me that I haven't read the book, and it's been on my To Be Read list since it first came out. I'm embarrassed to admit, I'd forgotten about  

Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann.

(Thanks, Carl, for the email reminder. Downloading on my Kindle right now.)

"I believe in the democracy of storytelling," said McCann in an interview. "I love the fact that our stories can cross all sorts of borders and boundaries. I feel humbled by the notion that I'm even a small part of the literary experience. I grew up in a house, in a city, in a country shaped by books. I don't know of a greater privilege than being allowed to tell a story, or to listen to a story. They're the only thing we have that can trump life itself."

Another is from a writing craft book. I'd copied this quote from Flannery O'Connor and it floated out of a notebook I just opened to ponder a bunch of new characters, while traveling in the South.

"If you start with a real personality, a real character, then something is bound to happen; and you don't have to know what before you begin. In fact, it may be better if you don't know what before you begin. You ought to be able to discover something from your stories. If you don't, probably nobody else will."

This makes great sense. Especially if you write by the seat of your pants.
Though I swore I would never do THAT again.

Instead, I'll think about stories while fleshing out characters and taking in setting these next few days.
Which comes first in your writing? Character, story, place?

Related post: Letters 


Tricia said...

I love that O'Connor quote, as well as another one of hers to the effect that she never knows what she thinks till she hears what she says. Flying by the seat of the pants--it's how I always,unfortunately, go, too.

Leslie Rose said...

Flannery O'Connor has always been one of my favorites. Thanks for sharing the quote. For me it's always character first.

Augusta Scattergood said...

Looking at some of my favorite author quotes just now and saw this. I may have to repost! Thanks for the comments. I, too, am a big fan. And a big pantster. Pantser? :)