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Richelle M Putnam

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Blogs by Richelle M Putnam

Bleeping Your Censors
1/9/2010 8:25:48 AM
Dont allow inner censors to hinder free expression.
Censors are everywhere...and for good reasons. By that, I mean we watch our language and how we act around children and other people, out of our respect for them and even for ourselves. There is an unwritten ethical code we live by. That's not a bad thing.

However, when we find ourselves writing around "censors," our writing becomes stilted, awkward, and dishonest. We are writing to please rather than be truthful, whether it be in non-fiction or fiction. As a reader, I search for truth that helps me believe in the characters, in what they do and what they say. When a protagonist isn't allowed to be human or an antagonist isn't allowed some redeeming characteristic, they become liars.

If a gang member doesn't use some profanity (and I'm not saying "overuse"), then he simply doesn't ring true to me. If a pastor doesn't slip and gossip or shout, he's too good to be true. If a child doesn't slam a door or follow the crowd at least one time, I close the book because he/she is simply not real.

As Nancy Kress shares in her book, "Dynamic Characters," characters are plot. They carry the action, they cause some of the obtacles, they react to the obstacles, they live the story, they succeed or fail. And they change, if only in a minor way. And they have to be believable.

EXERCISE: Think of a character you've had on your mind but you haven't quite been able to get him/her down on paper because of your censors. Maybe it's a prostitute. Or a husband addicted to pornography. Or a homemaker getting hooked on prescription pills. Get off by yourself where no one can look over your shoulder and write exactly what you want to say and how you want to say it. Even if you are embarrassed by what you write, write it. You can always throw it away. Or burn it. But do it. Practice doing this at least once a week.

Your censors will begin to become faint echoes and you will feel free to create three-dimensional, flawed characters without shame.

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More Blogs by Richelle M Putnam
•  Bleeping Your Censors - Saturday, January 09, 2010  

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