“Who?” or “Writer Questions #1”

The all-important questions: Why, where, when, what, and who?

For writers, there’s no right or wrong – only, for each, what’s true.

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Who do you write about?

Ordinary people with everyday-extraordinary lives? Extraordinary people who live out grand adventures? People who thought they were ordinary until adventure found them, and they thus found their extraordinary selves?

(Usually the second or third, for me. I may be stuck in some semblance of the ordinary for now, but I want better for my literary children.)

Do you write people like you? People like your friends? People like people you don’t really like?

(My characters will often share this or that trait with me. And the more time I spend with them, the more they’re likely to rub off, making me more like them. The world better hope I don’t write too many psychopaths.)

Do you like your characters? Which of them do you like most? Which of them don’t you like, yet you find that you love? Who among them are just hard to write for, and why?

(I’ll usually like the main ones, and a number of supporting cast members have worked their way into my affections, too. And there are antagonistic sorts too awful to like that nonetheless intrigue me. Sneaky and/or super-smart types are hard to write for, because their minds work so very differently from mine.)

* * *

Because owls say "Who".And this one is making a dapper face.
Because owls say “Who”.
And this one is making a dapper face.

Who are your inspirations?

Who do you see or hear about that makes you say, “I want to write someone like that”? What types of characters fascinate you? What types repel you and make you yearn to create the opposite?

(Fairytale archetypes and thieves inspire me no end. Characters who make me laugh and feel and want to be them – or, barring that, be with them – are the kind I want to write, in part because writing them can feel so nearly like being them.)

Who writes the way you wish you could? Who’s written what you wish you had? Who has created people that you wish were yours to claim?

(I don’t tend to want to emulate other authors, but I’ve coveted characters often enough. That’s why I love that Robin Hood is in the public domain: I was able to make him and his band my own!)

* * *

Who do you write for?

What sort of person do you envision treasuring your stories? Are they for young children? For angsting adolescents? For angsting adults? For some bored someone on a dreary day, in need of a little magic? For some stuffy someones who think they’ve read it all, and you want to prove them wrong? For some eager someone who’ll read absolutely anything, and you just want to contribute to their never-ending pleasure?

Or do you write for just one special friend? Or just for yourself? Or just for the characters whose stories beg to be told?

(I write for me, and the people inside me, and the people out there like me that I believe exist, just waiting for someone to write the stories they crave before they cave and write them themselves.)

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What about you, readers? What are your “who” answers? Share below!

4 thoughts on ““Who?” or “Writer Questions #1”

  1. I like those questions you ask, as they are a great influence in how much our stories relate to others. I like to write about everyday people who go through extraordinary situations, and people who are go through transformations.

    My biggest inspiration is the Bible. Everything in life is in there. I also love the way Stephen King develops a story and character, and the prose of Toni Morrison. While Octavia Butler’s creative mind awed me at times.

    Who I write for is a more difficult question. I like Jan Coleman says, “Write for an audience of one,” meaning God. I can’t say that’s always in mind when I write short fiction though. I write for my entertainment, just for the fun of creation, and to understand myself and God.

    Great post.

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