Sunday, March 1, 2009

Dwight Swain

I found a new favorite book on characters. Dwight V. Swain wrote CREATING CHARACTERS: HOW TO BUILD STORY PEOPLE in 1990. I've only read the first couple of chapters so far, but Mr. Swain tackles each chapter with a relaxed conversational tone. I feel like we're chatting as I read.

For instance, the first sentence of the book says, "What's the one key element any major character must have? The ability to care." Mr. Swain then rambles along with examples and before you know it, you've learned two or three new insights.

One of the insights I jotted into my notebook: When preparing to start a new work, treat your characters as though you're a casting director. Audition and scrutinize each role and find the character that you want. Find someone that intrigues you and that you'll be excited to integrate into your story.

I'll share more insights from Mr. Swain later this week. I'm signing off because I have to go brush Buster's teeth. Remember 2 weeks ago when he got a tooth pulled? Well, the vet said we have to start brushing his teeth once a week. Oh my.

Do you think Buster suspects anything? The problem is that he insists on licking the toothpaste while I brush. Aye-ya-aye ...


  1. I love animals but brushing teeth for me would be difficult. I would trick my wife into doing it.

  2. I brush mine like three times a day and still needed to get one pulled. Ah, to be a dog.

    I've often heard of taking your character out to lunch. Or for a drink as the case might be.

  3. Alas, David, would you believe it takes me and my wife to brush one little dog's teeth?

  4. PJ -- I hadn't heard about taking your characters to lunch, but that does sound clever. If only they'd pay ...

    Granted, I'm in ancient Greece, so all I'd problably get would be moldy barley bread and goat cheese!

  5. Ha ha! I've brushed our retriever's teeth before and I didn't get very far! Good luck!

  6. Surely, one of my children has a talent for brushing a dog's teeth?? If our dog ever needs it.

  7. Hi Twenty Four At Heart -- A golden retriever? That sounds tougher. Buster is only 30 pounds, but even so, I feel like a wrestler trying to pin him down long enough.

    Unfortunately, I think the vet said we have to do this 10 more weeks! Hmm... I'll have to do a follow up celebration post.

  8. Barrie,
    I think your kids are a little older than my son. As it is, we're brushing his teeth as well!