The Nice Thing About Strangers

Creative Non-Fiction Short Stories. :) Travel, Oldsters, Love, and Compassion.

Men at Work



“Always I find when I begin to write there is one character who obstinately will not come alive. There is nothing psychologically false about him, but he sticks, he has to be pushed around, words have to be found for him, all the technical skill I have acquired through the laborious years has to be employed in making him appear alive to my readers. Sometimes I get a sour satisfaction when a reviewer praises him as the best-drawn character in the story: if he has not been drawn he has certainly been dragged. He lies heavily on my mind whenever I start to work like an ill-digested meal on the stomach, robbing me of the pleasure of creation in any scene where he is present. He never does the unexpected thing, he never surprises me, he never takes charge. Every other character helps, he only hinders.

“And yet one cannot do without him. I can imagine God feeling in just that way about some of us.”

–Graham Greene. The End of the Affair.
(I’ve been hiding out with Graham Greene for the last few days. He’s a good companion in times like these. Here’s to getting back out into the world where I can look around. 🙂 )



3 comments on “Men at Work

  1. davecenker
    April 9, 2015

    Sometimes, it’s the “boring” character that reveals life in other characters. And sometimes, it’s the unexpected choice of said character that makes him or her come alive – along with the reader. It seems as though there is a yin and yang balance in characters that provides depth and texture to a story. It is never complete without both being present. Thanks for sharing Paige – always thought-provoking 🙂

  2. joannerambling
    April 10, 2015

    I have only recently heard of Graham Greene

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This entry was posted on April 8, 2015 by in Inspiration, Literature, Writing and tagged , , .

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