Okay, I'm not so much “Shredding Words” as carefully cutting and snipping around them while simultaneously talking about novel characters.
The book I'm mangling today was actually meant to be mangled. It's an old, early 1900s magazine. Sadly, there is just this one page left in a box of ephemera at the family antique mall. In it, I found this little guy, “Brother Bob”. Apparently, Bob’s entire family appeared sequentially in this particular vintage magazine. And this child was just so stylin’! Check out those cute little togs Brother Bob is sporting.
There is also something very zen about cutting out these little characters, which it makes all the more a pity that most of our children will never know the joy of paper dolls.
And while I was snipping out "Brother Bob" and his togs, I started thinking about how paper dolls - building them, dressing them, playing with them, is similar to building a character in a novel. You snip away at a composite – a stereotype. All written characters begin flat, like “Brother Bob”.
Then the writer begins to flesh him out.
For example, did you know that Bob is a little rapscallion? (Yes, I said rapscallion.) He’s the youngest child in my novel, KEEPING UP WITH MR. JONES. He has a penchant for collecting dead animals. It’s a worry for his mother, but what she doesn’t know is that his real goal in life is to be a veterinarian. That dead bird in his pocket is research – a secret that he will share with the only male figure in his life – Mr. Jones.
So check it out! And the next time you’re in an antique shop, check out some vintage magazines and don’t be afraid to bring your scissors. J