It was my turn to take our writing group last week and as my theme I chose a topic I’ve written about in the past – Characterisation.
As well as what the story is about, readers are interested in who it’s about. They want a protagonist they can empathise and identify with throughout the story, but these characters won’t necessarily be nice people; some memorable characters from literature have been downright horrible – think Heathcliffe from Wuthering Heights, Vanity Fair’s Becky Sharp, Patrick Bateman from American Psycho, Pinkie Brown from Brighton Rock. Whether likeable or thoroughly villainous, we need to believe that the characters we create are real, breathing people or our readers won’t believe in them either.
I was on local radio yesterday evening, reading one of my stories and it occurred to me that the majority of the short stories I’ve written have happy endings and are mostly about quite pleasant people who come into contact with something or someone horrible. But I actually find it much easier to write about villains – malevolent people in horrible situations. Maybe it’s an unconscious urge to pit myself against the horrors of life and see who comes up smiling, or maybe it’s art reflecting reality. I can think myself into a villain’s mind without a problem – but does that say more about me than my creative ability?
Yesterday’s offering features one nasty piece of work, but it’s mainly a feel-good story. It’s called ‘Charity Ball’ and you’ll find it under the Short Stories tab.