Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: The Writer’s Skill/Craft (04/22/10)
TITLE: Samantha Moretti
By Beth Muehlhausen
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Hello, my name is Samantha Moretti. I’m a character the author created to demonstrate her favorite crafting technique when writing fiction.
Although I don’t exist in real life, I do have intrinsic value. You see, the author expects me to tell the TRUTH about something. This may sound odd, or even impossible. But in reality I am a composite of lots of people, known or imagined, so my perspectives are trustworthy. My story is a composite of real-life experience; I tell the author, and she writes it down.
But first, the author must get to know me very well – intimately, in fact. What do I look like and wear? How do I spend my time? What do I enjoy and fear? Who are my friends? How has life shaped me? Then she places me in an environment and a situation with some sort of conflict. It’s my job to tell her how that conflict will be resolved, or not.
That’s the fun part. She’ll be writing along, digging deeper and deeper into my identity and circumstances, and then bam - I surprise her with a hidden attribute, gift, or knack that she didn’t fully understand or appreciate until it was time for me to disclose it. Or maybe a kid on a skateboard, a rogue storm, or a challenge at work shows up unexpectedly and turns the focus of the story so that it leads to a profound and inspiring resolution.
Granted, this all sounds ideological or even contrived. In reality, it’s a freeing, effective way to cut through writer’s block and get to the heart of a matter that may have been simmering on the author’s back burner for a long time.
You must be wondering about ME. Who am I, and why am I telling you all of this? Actually, I don’t know. I’m a fictional person, remember? I just know it’s my job to tell you the truth. And the truth is this: an author can count on fictional characters to tell their stories accurately and purposefully.
My author has discovered writing is a craft, not a rote ritual. As such, it’s much more effective to develop characters and give them free reign with their own stories than to fine-tune a plot and impose people after-the-fact. That’s why I’m spilling the beans here today. Whatever comes from the author’s desk during this little exercise will reflect the truth about me, her chosen character-du-jour.
So let’s give it a try, and develop the free-floating type of introductory work that might precede the author’s composition of a story.
My name is not Sue, Anne, or even Sarah-Beth. It’s Samantha, because I’m opinionated and strong-willed, and definitely artistic in temperament. Even so, the name Samantha (chosen by my free-spirited American mother who married my Italian father when traveling overseas) also means “listener.” I’m someone who absorbs her surroundings like a sponge.
I like wild colors. Today I’m a walking fashion-statement in my skin-tight avocado leotard, baggy purple jean skirt, worn-out flip-flops, oversized sunglasses, big-hoop earrings, and multiple rings on every finger.
Nanny Madeline raised me in an apartment in New York City. I came to the ‘windy city’ when a Chicago advertising firm offered me a job as a graphic designer. I love studying the people I see walking along the shores of Lake Michigan.
I chew my fingernails regularly, even when not stressed. Otherwise I eat mostly salad and raw almonds, and drink a LOT of white zinfandel.
Most of my friends are artsy types who walk to the jazzy beats of their own drummers. Our lives are journeys, although we can’t always articulate where we’re going.
OH! A couple of minutes ago I didn’t even know to say this, but I long to make peace with disfiguring facial scars left from a car accident in my late teens. I’m almost thirty now, still single, still hoping for some sort of inner beauty to surface. Meanwhile I rely on untamable dreadlocks as a smoke screen.
At this point, I figure it’s about time for the author to start crafting a story. If she has a topic, fine – it can weave its way into my life and allow me to speak to it. If not, the sky’s the limit. The author can set me out like a kite to sail in the winds of creative expression and see how high I might fly, and where and how I might choose to land in the hearts of her readers.
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
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