a writer's blog

Editing Characters

collateral tales

collateral tales

A few days ago, I posted about a cartoon by Tom Gauld in Creed of Reason, and another one’s in the pipeline for Brave New Texts. Today: Collateral Tales. He seems determined to draw brilliant cartoons that perfectly illustrate major topics from each of my categories!

It’s certainly not the way I work—I write fiction pretty much the way I write stuff for academia. But I know writers who do, and I always find it very confusing.

I don’t think characters should be sacrosanct, once designed. They should serve the plot, and both characters and plot should serve the story’s theme. Also, it’s an art form to combine characters for a stronger thru-line in a screenplay based on other media, like an adaptation from a novel, a historical event, or a so-called “true story.” But I also think that if lines and plot elements can be shifted too freely and effortlessly between characters, it’s a warning sign that not everything serves its well-defined purpose with regard to the theme.

Now, what if the characters were aware of this?

251. The Indecisive Novelist's Characters

The Indecisive Novelist’s Characters

Cartoon by Tom Gauld for the Guardian



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  1. between drafts | Die Architektur des Sprachwandels