Sunday, January 10, 2010


As promised I am getting back to the basics by asking the 5 Ws Who, What, When, Where and Why? Today, I tackle...
I started out asking the question Who? in a very pragmatic way. I realized that I needed to figure out: Who will be interested in reading (or even better-buying) my writing? I know absolutely nothing about the business end of anything, especially not writing. I never knew (and perhaps still don’t) the difference between an agent, an editor and a publisher. I have always been fuzzy on copyright laws and intellectual property. That whole mess seemed quite overwhelming and I closed my eyes to it, hoping that someday I’d be magically discovered as a writing prodigy and simply fall into a book contract.
I realize now that this was lazy, timid and foolish. Marketing does not necessarily sully the art of writing. Business can sharpen and hone writing. It can be a way to polish a diamond in the rough. Writing for myself is certainly where it starts but it does not have to be where it ends. There may be others who care about what I do and what a challenge to find them and to show them my work! (for a wonderful blog on this, see Rachelle Gardner’s Rants and Ramblings
There are other, perhaps deeper, Who questions to be answered as well. For example: Who are my characters? and Who am I as a writer?
It took me two or three months to really develop my characters and I find every time I write they are still developing. It was very helpful to me to try and visualize my characters and get to know them. I spent hours jotting down notes about their appearance, their motivation, their preferences, their fears, their mannerisms, their social status, their personal problems, even their vocal quality. At times it felt like a waste to wade so deeply into aspects of their lives which may only make a camio appearance in my work. Still, I kept at it and learned some valuable lessons. Now, I often return to these notes when I feel I am getting off track.
Unavoidably, I began to ask myself these same questions and I came to a fascinating conclusion. An author knows a character better than the character knows itself. And in life, the Creator knows me much better than I know myself. It seems odd that I could possibly still be learning about myself, but I change and develop like any good character. My likes and dislikes shift with time and my appearance morphs as well. I could never have seen who I am today and I cannot predict how that will change tomorrow. But through it all, I want to be integrated, to have all the pieces of my life woven together until I am a women of true integrity.

What are your Who questions and how do you answer them?

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting this. I am beginning to identify the "who" I am... and what it is I might have to write about. I am still torn by the genre question but it is becoming clearer that I am motivated by a desire to write not only about fictional characters but also to create a conversation about the changing culture we are living in.