Friday, February 10, 2012


Character flaws

I like to listen to music while I'm writing. In fact, I have music on in my house the entire day. I always have done this. If it's not a CD playing, I'll listen to the radio, most often CBC Radio 2 when the classical music program, Tempo is on. It stays there until mid-afternoon, when the songs gradually shift (incidentally, the name of the next program)over to more modern music. I then 'shift' it off.

What I do like about Shift is the announcer, Tom Allen. He's clever, knowledgeable and fills the time between the music with items of interest. Not so good when you're trying to write, I admit.

This past week he's been interviewing the authors in Canada Reads and has asked them to compile a play list of songs they like or having meaning to them. It's been an interesting variety. So, when Canada reads ended, he continued in his literary sojourn, talking about writing devices.

Like, how does a writer create a character? Every fictional character has at least some minute connection to a person the writer knows, has met, or even just spotted on public transit. Often it's an unconscious action on the writer's part. But sometimes, a person is just too tempting to ignore. But, if you want to create a character based on a real person, problems could arise if that person recognizes himself or herself. The solution, according to Tom, is something I'd never heard of but he claimed was well known -- the 'small penis rule'.

The author gives the character something, a characteristic, trait, whatever, that no one would ever admit to having. Hence, they will not end up suing the writer for that appearance in the book. Cute, right?

The problem arises with women and this was his question of the day...and now mine. What characteristic would you give a female character?

Linda Wiken/Erika Chase
A Killer Read coming April, 2012
from Berkley Prime Crime

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