January 23, 2021

As Writers, What Relationships Do We Have With Our Fictional Characters?

Samuel Verdin

Concrete PoetryDear Character, 2021

As a writer of metafiction, I am interested in (and critical of) fiction’s construction, its literary devices, environments and the characters that fill them.

When positioned to create new characters – perhaps in a poem or a short story – some would say the writer takes on the qualities of a god; they create life. These characters continue to live on in the imaginations of those that read them. And they are the fruit of the writer’s imagination. They are remembered for achieving great things, overcoming immense obstacles and through their pain, teaching us about the human condition. Why, then, if the writer pours themselves into their characters – building, moulding them – would they so regularly fill their stories with so much conflict for the character to resolve? For what reason should these characters be birthed into our imaginations only to suffer at the creative whims of one hidden away at a desk?

I exercise my dominance there, too, and jealously – creating, loving, destroying. And I have understood that there is no truer antagonist to the character than their writer, who creates them sturdy, only to break them down into one-hundred-thousand words.