“It matters not what a person is born, but who they choose to be.” J.K. Rowling

As part of my MA at West Dean College, I gave a presentation about my work-in-progress. I used images and texts to evoke the period and place that my story was set in quite comfortably. I felt confident about portraying the 1960s without cloying nostalgia, and happy firmly locating it on the Yorkshire coast. I was able to outline the general social background: the underlying tension between the seal people and the fishermen of Scoresby Nab.

But then I reached the specific ‘who’- my central protagonist – and it all went a bit vague. Come the plenary and it was clear my audience had been left in some fuzzy hinterland they disliked.

I determined to do something about this.

I had no joy with writing a bog standard character description. It came out twee, stereotypical. If  I could sneak up on him sideways somehow, Mattie might become clearer. It occurred to me that in the best stories we learn a good deal about a character by the reactions of those around them. I hit upon the idea of ‘asking’  Mattie’s grandmother and others: I could see him through a matrix of other people’s views.

So now I am creating chunks of Grandma’s diary, newspaper cuttings, and  a doctor’s note. I wonder what else might inform.

Any suggestions?

2 thoughts on ““It matters not what a person is born, but who they choose to be.” J.K. Rowling

  1. Hi
    I understand your dilemma. What about teachers, school reports, pals or class mates. Nosey neighbours. Good Luck!

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