Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Owning Your Work

I posted a while ago about reconciling differences.  As an author, I have my own personal beliefs about a variety of situations that characters could face, ways that characters might think, etc.  (You can find that original post here.)

Now, as I sit down and really look at my story When the Star Fell (formerly titled Lodestar), I find myself faced with a question.

Do I want this work to be associated with me?

It brings to mind Warren Buffett's advice from that school visit I talked about before on the blog.  (Find those posts here, here, and here.)  In the video, he's asked, "How do you instill ethical leadership through your corporation? How do you know the management below you is making parallel decisions?"

His reply was the newspaper test.  Imagine that the decision you're making is going to be reported on the next day by a less-than-friendly newspaper reporter.  All your friends and family are going to see it.  Are you good with the decision, imagining that scenario?  If not, make a different decision.

Am I comfortable with what's in the story?  Am I, being an active member of my church, comfortable with the situations I've put my characters through?  Am I comfortable with the fact that I've written dialogue with the occasional (very occasional) curse word?  Am I comfortable with every word on those pages?

And I'm not so sure I am.

Are you comfortable with your words as a representation of you?

(To be fair, I do realize that my book isn't me.  But people can get judgmental sometimes.  And I know that we have to be true to the characters, but doesn't that also mean we can create characters that don't behave in those ways that make us most uncomfortable?)


  1. So true. I was just thinking about this yesterday because I want my character to be an independent person. Someone different from myself. But, I also don't want a character who is so different that people would judge me personally by the way my character behaves. For instance (like you said), I don't think I could have my character curse all the time because I never do. Your post gave me something to think about :).

  2. I don't know. I know characters have to do unwise things and get into trouble or it's not a story. I wouldn't have a problem with curse words for YA. If your story is good and the characters are true to the story, that is what makes it work. Those who love that kind of story should like it. Others won't. But I'm not sure we can ever please everyone. I wouldn't be bothered as long as I like the story I wrote. But that's just me and I don't belong to a church.

  3. Dangit, Stephanie. Now I have to go write a post on this. My comment was too long. ;D


  4. P.S. - BE PROUD, GIRLFRIEND!! Don't let someone else's opinion keep you from doing what feels right for your story, your characters. What do they know? You know what kind of person you are, and so does God. Their opinions matter not. :)


  5. I think we all worry about this.

    I do what's right for my characters. Sometimes they do things I'd never do because it's part of THEIR journey.

    Okay, I love your font, but it's hard to read. But I love it. Bit it's hard to read... Have you been doing this, too?

  6. Maybe I shouldn't be (?) but I'm always aware of my work being a representation of me (and of God, since I'm a Christian). I want ALL people to be able to enjoy my work--even people from my church and more conservative walks.

    Personally, I don't like putting swear words in my novels, or questionable scenes of sex or graphic violence; it's not who I am. I think I can get my points across without those things. Look at the popularity of STAR WARS. How many swear words in those movies? Not many! It's challenging when writing a novel sometimes, and there are times when a character really WOULD say something more colorful, but I can be creative in how I portray that. Have them swear offscreen (i.e, "she swore"), or cut them off in the middle of a sentence BEFORE they say the curse word, etc. Why limit your readership??


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