Advice from Oscar Wilde


which I am determined to heed when planning new plots this year.

1 ‘Memory is the diary we all carry around with us.’

(From The Importance of Being Earnest)

We can use our memories to fleshNew Yrs Day Looe (4) out characters, to visualise scenes, to relive emotions. Looking at photographs can help us recall things. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve received is to keep a notebook. Jot stuff down. I’ve divided mine into two parts. PLACES, including the natural world of plants and animals, and PEOPLE. There are things in my notebook I would have forgotten if they weren’t written down. I include cuttings from newspapers, useful phrases that slip into my head at odd times, etc. Make your own categories. Take time to read through your entries.

2 ‘It is not the perfect but the imperfect who have need of love.’

(From An Ideal Husband)

I think Oscar is telling us that the people we write about, need to be real. The dashing hero, the beautiful woman, they all need flaws in their characters, things they would rather no-one spotted, or dwelt on. And conversely, even the vilest of our characters must have some saving grace, even if it’s the smallest iota of compassion, or a rare glimpse of a positive quality. Very important this, otherwise our readers will simply stop reading.

3 ‘Whenever a man does a thoroughly stupid thing, it is always from the noblest of motives.’

(From The Picture of Dorian Gray)

If New Yrs Day Looe (7)your readers understand a character and his motives, especially if these are ‘noble’, there is a good chance they will keep on reading. This is where ‘show not tell’ comes into its own. We should try and get inside the heads of our characters, and show our readers everything they need to know – their love of animals, their concern for their children, their amazing violin-playing, and so on, as well as how selfish they can be, how forgetful, or how mean. Let’s aim to make our characters real people.





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