AVOIDING SHORTCUTS

One of the challenges of writing fiction, as far as I’m concerned, is avoiding shortcuts. By that I mean, for example, giving your character a job which could define said character for you, but finding a way around the usual clichés. In other words, make the accountant other than dull, the artist, not primarily egocentric and difficult, the academic, not constipated and clad in tweed.

The reason I write is to explore ideas and broaden my horizons, so why waste my time repeating tired clichés? Why let simplistic views limit the portrayal of my characters? Why choose the easy shortcuts?

That’s also the reason why none of my characters so far have been afflicted with either a mental handicap or disease (autism, dementia, Alzheimer, bipolar disorder – you name it, it’s in a novel these days…). While I can – to some extent – understand why an author might be interested in delving into such a territory, I’d rather create characters who are mostly on the sane spectrum but, like most of us, have fears, neuroses and moments of extreme panic/joy/anger/sadness etc. It’s in fact much harder, and much more rewarding, to flesh out a human being who goes through a whole range of emotions and behaviours without introducing them through a shortcut. And it’s so much fun to subvert clichés…

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