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September Newsletter: Writers Are Different

Writers Are Different By Richard McGee

Writers are always trying to improve their craft. They listen differently than other people; listening to a conversation often has little to do with the subject of the conversation but noting the ebb and flow of words so they can write better and more natural dialog themselves. They like to watch people perform routine tasks so their fictional characters will behave more realistically.

Writers even watch movies and tv shows a little differently. They are watching the interaction of characters, listening to dialog, and identifying plot points. My wife and I recently watched Grantchester, a Masterpiece series on PBS. We have enjoyed this series the last two years and looked forward to watching the third season. The show is a murder mystery with a police detective and church vicar cooperating to solve crimes.

The main character of the series, a church vicar, was replaced in this latest season. In the fourth episode, the new vicar asked the detective to accompany him to visit his family. Of course, a murder occurs, and they work together to solve the case. My wife loves murder mysteries and enjoyed the episode. Watching it as a writer, I was ecstatic. The show’s writer had revealed the new character’s backstory to his partner and to the viewers. It made me more empathetic to the character and it provided the depth to him that would provide many more story ideas in the future.

A good writer must build a good backstory for his characters and often struggles with how to share it with the reader. As a writer, I watched this show, fully appreciating how it was accomplished.

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