My New Project

In an effort to put more time and …er, effort…into writing, and in part to stir up some creativity and what-not, I have begun to undertake a new project (as the title suggests).

Here’s the plan for those playing at home (and feel free to do so, it’ll be interesting to get more people involved in this – if there’s anyone even reading this much less playing at home):

-go to Found Photos

-select a photo from their bajillion available

-write a short story based upon that photo, conjure up the story behind what is going on in the photo

That’s one of the things that drives this whole idea…I stopped and looked at these pictures and thought about who the people were and how the picture was taken. What are they thinking? Are they family? Friends? Newly acquainted? Is one person more invested in the other, or does one of them really not want to be there?
I think that is based on my view of literature and fiction and how both are effective. To me, a good story is driven by character and not plot. It’s fairly basic. The most intricate and devised plot not only tries to capture specific characters and hold them within it’s boundaries, but it constrains an author’s ability to develop wrinkles, surprises, and the unexpected conflict and fun that we get out of writing.
However, when you create rich, defined characters — well they create their own plot, and, more importantly, it’s more reliable because it’s based on Jim the lonely undertaker, or Gladys, the chatty operator, or Floyd, the butcher who likes to sing along with the Andrews Sisters. And the action comes from the characters acting within their world, naturally reacting in accordance with their individual outlooks and biases and warts and all.

So that’s why a project like this interests me. While the pictures show real people, in my mind, as I write about them, I create new people and let them develop their own world.


~ by Michael Engel on May 12, 2007.

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