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March Newsletter: Fiction or Real?

Fiction or Real? By Richard McGee

Writers don’t all use the same methods to craft a fictional story. Some sit down with an idea of “what if?” they want to explore. Some have an idea of a unique world or universe they want to show to everyone. Others have a character in mind that they want to throw out into the world and see what happens.

Those divisions become blurred for many writers. I generally have a theme or general idea for my tales, but then I plug a character into the protagonist slot. I imagine what that character looks like. I think about his history; his childhood and prior experiences form the person he has become. My main character is never a superhero, they’re boring. Mine is an average person with both good qualities and foibles. His warts make him interesting, his weaknesses make him real and maybe even endearing.

After I create the protagonist, I develop his intimate circle of family and friends. Their traits influence my main character and further develop him in my mind. At this point, I see interactions between the characters that give me an even fuller vision of who my protagonist is.

My character is now mostly complete. He sits in my mind and I think of him often. Finally, I’m ready to put him in my story. By now, he has become a real person to me. If I try to have him do something that is alien to his personality, he rebels and does what he thinks is right. I am sometimes surprised when my story leads me in a different direction than my initial intent because my character did what came natural to him.

So, when you read my stories, I am telling you about a real person. He may not have a social security card or a driver’s license, but he is more real than many people I speak to during the day and he has become an intimate friend of mine.

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