Did That Character Swear?

I want to thank everyone for your replies to my post Find Strength & Stop Being Nice! You’ve really shown your support and I appreciate that.

Before I go any further I must mention that Mirror Image is fiction based on real life events.

Now that I’ve had a few days to think about it, I know that my reader is right in some regards and wrong in others. He’s not a writer, but he has a personal interest in the content (as do I) and he’s right when he says I am holding back and not letting my characters feel the emotions. I can only say that I am protecting myself. When I write the most powerful scenes in the manuscript the memory of the real thing still makes me sob openly. I also believe I’m protecting people that might think I’m writing about them, when I’m not. The story is fiction. The characters are fiction. I guess I’m scared that if the book was published, the people who were around when the true life event happened might see themselves in my writing. I have tried to make it obvious that this hasn’t happened, but this is making me hold back and that’s why he (my reader) said I have to forget other people and go for it 100%. He also said that maybe it would help if I wrote this manuscript under a different name. Maybe that would free me! Maybe he’s right, but it’s a bit hard when I have this blog and I’ve been mentioning the manuscript for the last two or so years.

He’s wrong because not everyone swears when placed in the situations I have in this manuscript. I never swore when it happened to me. Never, not even when I truly wanted to murder someone, anyone, and I came close to putting those thoughts into action (thankfully my will power and conscience made me walk away). But, having said that, not everyone is like me and I believe there is one character in my story who would swear. Not often. Not on every page. But when he’s pushed to the limit, he would swear and when it happens I hope the reader can recognise a person stretched to breaking point.

Then, on Friday afternoon on the train, I sat in a carriage with three young men–around 20 years of age–sitting behind me. They reminded me of the character I mentioned in the previous paragraph and I found myself listening to the way they interacted with each other…and making mental notes. I didn’t see them at any time, I just listened to them, but from what I heard (and it was over an hour of conversation) they seemed like decent boys, good kids just living life to the fullest. All of them were making the long trip home from university for the weekend. My character is exactly like them. And I realised that the character is lacking something…youth! He needs to be given stronger aspects of being a youth in this day and age (and not the aspects of being a youth in MY day) and I think that includes swearing. Listening to these young men helped me realise this and reconfirmed what action needs to be taken.

If anyone else has anything to add, please do so. I’m determined to do justice to this manuscript because not just anyone can tell this story. It’s a subject that you have to have lived to really know…and I’ve lived it.

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One thought on “Did That Character Swear?

  1. I think the last part about youth is pretty revealing. I guess it would be hard to swear when you don’t really like it.

    I swear quite a lot in real life and in my writing, so I can’t compare in that front. Perhaps it’d be like me trying to write characters that are racist and have them be sympathetic…
    .-= Benjamin Solah´s last blog ..July Writing Goals =-.

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