A Note on Writing Characters
My dearest, darling Author:
I enjoyed reading your book, I really did. But there were some things that simply got on my nerves.
Your need to tell me absolutely everything, as if every tiny detail were just so integral to the plot, was supremely annoying. I do not need to know a character's hair and eye color when I first meet them, or every detail down to the style of his buttons when he walks into a scene; I do not necessarily need to know what his lunch was or that he went bowling with the guys last Saturday and has been in the league for five years. Take for instance that scene on the veranda, where the one protagonist stepped up to the wall and got his first good look at the sea in years. You wasted paragraphs and paragraphs of words explaining how, when he was a boy and saw the ocean for the first time, it was terrifying to him, left him with a feeling of crushing loneliness. Now, if you had simply said he stepped up to the wall and saw the sea for the first time in years, and had
Spring comes, a late dream with a finite hope:
trilliums and mayapples,
bright tears in forest shadows. Sun
ripples and fields freshly furrowed;
ripe, black fields.
Bill comes down the road
(all tamped dirt, too damp yet for dust),
his fingers not dark and he smiles
with his George Armstrong Custer mustache,
courier bag beneath his arm. He smiles
a mouth full of forget-me-nots.
In these parts, churches are built on corners.
Sidewalks converge there,
and god and the tall bell tower on the sky,
and little sparrows at dusk.
The years, too, live there
like cracks in stained glass windows.
Bill sits in a stonewood pew
wearing his long striped trousers,
hat curling in his hands, brows
like moss white on his forehead.
He prays for summer.
Only pray for what you know you'll get,
Asparagus grows by a wall of aged stones
belly-round and stacked there too many seasons ago.
They once protected a woman's garden
still here, now overgrown.
She smelled of lavender in the summer,
His eyes are spoons,
empty and bright. He has
taken to counting the clock-
ticks in absence; pages
flutter in his lap, but
he does not read.
If I should listen
hard enough, some
old dead will find the
voice to speak into
these hours, he thinks.
Nights pass like this.
There is only quiet;
that endless tick ticking,
those pages as they ruffle
beneath his patient fingers,
the creak of furniture
like scolding old friends
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