Character Business

CHARACTER BUSINESS - NO TXT“You’re in the business of creating characters,” a workshop leader at a writing conference once said. I agree I am. No, I’m not an actor, though I have a background in theater and played a few roles on the stage. That was stage one of my growth as a person, no pun intended. Stage one was the first twenty-four years of my adult life when I defined myself as an artist until I went down the rabbit hole of graduate school earning a Ph.D. and I called myself a scholar who studies performance. Stage two, public school teacher, spanned nearly two decades. Now solidly in the sixth year of stage three of this wonderful gift called life, I define myself as a fiction writer. So, yes indeed, I am in the business of creating characters.

Where do these characters come from? As a child, I hated fiction. “Tell me a real story,” I’d say to my mother at bedtime, so she enthralled me with tales of growing up on the Jersey Shore at the beginning of the twentieth century. Her adventures were far more interesting than those in the Little Golden Books of my childhood.

Through her stories, I encountered a number of intriguing characters, some I even met when I got older. Those were the indelible ones. Their stories were my secrets. I didn’t reveal what my mother had told me about their lives and how she had been touched by them, how she had grown stronger because of them or was deeply hurt and damaged by what they had done.

They were about real people. Where do fictional characters come from? They come from the only place possible, the writer’s imagination, which is nourished by life experience. I have met a lot of characters in my life, far too many to include in my fiction writing. That’s why I’m starting a new blog called Indelible Characters, where I will post vignettes inspired by people I have encountered.  I may also cross-post them here so I can periodically breathe life into this portal until a revision of Eat Your Warrior Fish, my debut YA novel, is ready to launch.

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Jeremiah’s Best Trick

Jeremiah was a natural. His mother said it was in his genes because his great-grandfather William “Mush” Rawls had been a famous vaudeville actor with Buster Keaton in the early 1900s. But Great-grandfather Mush was not so famous that any of Jeremiah’s classmates had ever heard of him. No, Jeremiah had to make a name for himself on his own.

Take a Short Fiction Break and read “Jeremiah’s Best Trick,” my latest short story for middle-grade readers. It’s published on Short Fiction Break, a website that features hundreds of short stories (mostly adult fiction) from all over the world.

If you are really into it, you can vote for my story in the People’s Choice Awards for the Summer Writing Contest, which entails reading at least three stories. If you’re up for it, check it out: Readers’ Choice Awards Guidelines.

  1. Read at least three or four of the stories. (There are a lot to choose from.)
  2. Vote for your favorite by choosing its title from the dropdown list in the poll.
  3. Share your favorite on social media and invite your friends to vote, too.
  4. Comment on the story to let the author know you enjoyed it.

Happy reading!