March 23, 2011

Truth is stranger than fiction

One thing that writers are cautioned against is writing about a character who fits neatly into a cliché, in effect a caricature. So we strive to create multidimensional characters in our fiction where characters at both ends of the spectrum have both bad qualities and good qualities. Another important thing is that their descriptions should not be like a stock character out of a movie, in effect, a caricature.

Well truth was stranger than fiction tonight. I was sitting outside our local convenience store waiting for my daughter to come out. My car sat next to a red and white El Camino of undetermined age – let’s just say it was old. Inside that vehicle were two scraggly looking people, an unkempt male and female, who looked like what we imagine a desperate criminal might look like. They were smoking so vigorously that their cheeks were being sucked in with each hungry drag on their cigarettes. I wouldn’t have been the least bit surprised to see them jump out of their old vehicle and go in to rob the convenience store.

Truth was stranger than fiction tonight. Truth was the caricature that we, as writers, strive to avoid with our fiction.


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