Thursday, January 21, 2010

Characters and Story

As a child, I had dolls, my own little rocking chair--and books. And I loved my books. I'm told I thought I could "read" at two years old--except that, as I parroted the story, I held the book...upside down.

Later I'd happily skip off to school with a bit of money Mom gave me for the Scholastic book fair. And my grandmother contributed by way of a membership in a children's book-of-the-month club--some of which I still have. In the early teen years, friend Kathy and I frequented the town library and toted numerous books back and forth.

Some of my favorites when I was little? The Secret Garden, Heidi, Little Women. As I got older I loved Mitchell's Gone with the Wind, Catherine Marshall's Christy, and a title from my grandmother's shelf, The Edge of Time, by Loula Grace Erdman.

As I begin the journey into my next book, I'm anxious to get to know my main character. Who is she? What does she need/want? What conflicts will rise up to block her way? What's her story? I have a couple of ideas, but not enough yet.

And so I'm revisiting some of my favorite books and reacquainting myself with "old friends," seeking the threads as to why their stories have endured. I continue to read new titles, and explore their threads--to glean and grow and go forward.

What about you--who are some of your childhood book "friends," and why?

I've always sort of believed that these people inside me--these characters--know who they are and what they're about and what happens, and they need me to help get it down on paper because they don't type. --Anne Lamott


  1. When I was a child I didn't read much... but I played many different characters! I think that's why I'm an actress today!
    But, I remember my favorite book... "The Little Prince" I carry it with me every place I go to live! I took to Japan and brought it with me to US and I still read it :)
    Interesting to see the questions you have to ask when writing a book! They are the same questions that I ask when portraying a character! I'm always so anxious to find out everything I can to bring him/her to life. I read the script so many times and every time I discover some thing new!

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  3. Sorry! What I was saying was that "The Little Price" was the book I had recommended to you...what a coincidence. :)
    You know that for me it was my beloved Anne of Green Gables. She always spoke to me for some reason--maybe because her imperfections made her so real and lovable.

  4. Prince! I meant Prince! So sorry to clutter your comment area! I'm leaving now, for good...

  5. Now I've REALLY got to read the Little Prince! And don't leave, this is too much fun. It's the keys, you know, the keys are out to mess us up!

  6. I confess that although I loved going to the library as a young child I didn't read many novels. I wasn't really a brooding teenager but I liked brooding novels. The great Russians fascinated me , such a different world from ours. Now that I am very middle aged I love Austen (not Steve), and Little Women too. The people are indeed like old friends to me. There is so much insight into people's character there.
    Brooding just doesn't appeal to me anymore!

  7. Oh, by the way, Bill gave me a copy of the 1934 movie of Little Women with Kate Hepburn. One of my favorite movies ever.

  8. Thanks for the responses, friends! I love getting your comments and learning new things from--and about--you, too :-)