Character Development: Reading Between the Lines

I write for a living. Wine textbooks by day, novels at night. Sometimes it feels as if my fingers never leave the keyboard.

Whereas many writers agonize over writer’s block, I find myself rarely out of synch with a deadline. Most of this is discipline.

I wrote a weekly wine column for a network of local papers for eight years until a changing economy put newsprint in Chapter 11. That long-running writing commitment took focus and pre-plan and an endless search for fresh material.

What I found most interesting is that, over the years, my hunt for the new and novel rarely involved a left-brained focus. I built my columns out of inspiration gleaned from snippets of casual conversation overheard in a grocery store, from song lyrics on the radio, from books I read or social events with friends and family.

It was regular day-to-day living that provided the insight, the themes, the “angle” from which I could craft my text.

For my article entitled “Pinot Noir in the Fifth Dimension”, my inspiration was radio. “Whining and Dining”? Overheard conversation. “I Think I’ll Have Another”? Kentucky Derby.

The research followed.

My point is that if writing is all that we do, we can’t possibly do it well. Writers need to be connected with life in all of its myriad facets to write about it.

So on Mondays, I’m going to blog about my non-writing life… the cooking classes, cheese making, gardening, travel… all the things that cement the pieces of my writing life together. In truth, it all ends up tucked between the lines of my prose in the end.

With this in mind, I’ve decided to call the installments “Character Development” because that’s what it is…and on many levels!

One Response to “Character Development: Reading Between the Lines”

  1. Greetings from a wet corner of Britain! (actually, most of it is wet) I was nudged in the direction of your blog by a fellow bibliophile who’s been enthusing about ‘Touching the Moon’ and thought I’d find your blog interesting. She was right – your thoughts here ring very true, especially the picking up of snippets here and there which end up in one’s writing. I’m intrigued to ask though, do you never suffer from writer’s block?

    I’m something of an aspiring writer, which is probably a rather grandiose description for myself, but I have novel which is fairly well developed and some distance in, and now I’ve been stuck on it for well over a year. I can go back and edit and polish and so forth easily enough, but forward movement? Nil. Of course, I have no deadline for it and it is very much a long-term project, but I’d be interested if you’ve ever found yourself in a similar position and how you dealt with it, or how you’ve avoided it in the first place?

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