“When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. Characters are caricatures.” – Ernest Hemingway
I believe in writing reality. I believe literature is one of the best tools to better understand ourselves, as well as each other. When a writer creates a scenario in a make-believe world it is unbiased. When we see ourselves in a particular archetype a character represents, presented in the fictitious written word, we can examine ourselves without offense or the possible judgement of others. Instead, we can get lost in a different world, escaping our own, yet coming out with a better understanding of it. We are freed by people who are real to us, but that we’ll never have to actually face.
I like to write character-driven fiction. All of my projects are written in first person, from the prospective of my protagonist, and this was not on purpose. Any writer’s work is a reflection, a manifestation of that writer’s personality in some way. In studying my characters I have found they are on journeys. They start with goals or dreams, and despite hardship and an always present internal struggle, have to find their ways back to them. At some point they are pulled away from the path they know is the only one that makes them feel alive, and come to the point of breaking before discovering it again. The characters come from somewhere in me, and I’m surprised at how long it took me to really see the psychology behind it.
In the two novels I’ve completed, both of my main characters began their voyages in early adolescence. That’s where the foundations laid in childhood butts heads with the person we are destined to become. That’s where the water in the pot starts boiling, and where we start making plans for the future by discovering. We find our natural talents, develop our personalities more in-depth, and first search, cluelessly for tastes of puppy love. It’s when we’re green, and just impure enough to start feeling hungry for something we haven’t found yet. The road we start down here accounts for so many of our beginnings, my beginnings. That’s probably why I revisit it so much, and why my characters first appear to me at this age. They are me. They are constantly coming of age, constantly just missing the mark, and constantly certain they’ll hit that mark somehow, someday.
My mission is to share my discoveries through my characters, and touch people by illustrating their lives in prose. It’s my way to come out from any structures I hide behind and radiate. It’s the only way I know to really connect with other humans. I think it’s because we’re all the same down in the meaty parts, where it hurts to get pricked by a needle. However, those parts need checked out from time to time. I hope my stories tell truth, and that they do not draw caricatures. I don’t want to sweeten up what the real soul actually looks like. I don’t airbrush my writing. I write about people, because that’s what we are. Literature is our way to refuse to shy away from it. The truth is we are all sketched up in the same ugly likeness, hallmarked with certain shades of greatness. How dare we, with the ability, not write it in that same likeness. Let us annihilate caricatures.
One thought on “To the Demise of Caricatures”
Well said. I remember feeling tne same way after coming back from Florida.