Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Words to Ponder

JoAnn Arnold

Dorothea Brand (1893-1948) published Becoming a Writer in 1934. In this book she discusses a writer’s most important problems. She explains how subconscious feelings and motives affect our ability to say what we mean.

In her words: “It is a commonplace that every writer must turn to himself to find most of his material . . . If you can come to such friendly terms with yourself that you are able and willing to say precisely what you think of any given situation or character, if you can tell a story as it can appear only to you of all the people on earth, you will inevitably have a piece of work which is original. The author must look at the persons of his own creation with no one else’s eyes but his own.

She explains that we as authors must trust ourselves in deciding how our hero meets his dilemma and what we think of the impasse. These are the things that make our story truly our own; and it is our own individual character, unmistakably showing through our work, which will lead us to success or failure. “You are persuading your reader, while you hold his attention, to see the world with your eyes, to agree with you that this is a stirring occasion. That a situation is essentially tragic, or that another is deeply humorous. . . Your conviction underlies all imaginative representation.”

Now I ask you, do you agree with Dorothea?

Thanks for stopping by.


ali said...

It's amazing how a book written so long ago, is still so pertinent to us today. This was great advice.

Christine Thackeray said...

JoAnn, I somewhat agree but not all the way. Sometimes getting feedback can push our character to better places, heighten conflict that we couldn't see, being trapped in our own mind. I do believe you have to be true to who you feel the character is (I HATE plot manipulation) but I know input makes me a better writer.