Intriguing Thoughts from John Beyer

I enjoy reading quotations from famous people -- other writers in particular -- and someday I would enjoy people quoting me or one of the characters from my stories. Perhaps they do already and I do not know about it – wouldn’t that be a hoot and a half?

But here’s one of my favorites from Somerset Maugham: “If you can tell stories, create characters, devise incidents, and have sincerity and passion, it doesn’t matter a damn how you write.”

For a writer, that could not be plainer. Write on a napkin. Write on a wall. Use a pencil or pen. Perhaps just strike the old typewriter keys daily or punch the keyboard an hour every other day. The bottom line is that you just need to write – that is if you are a writer and if not then you must read what the writer writes.

That was a plug for all writers out there – we write so others will read.

Again with a quotation. This time one of my favorite authors, Ernest Hemingway: “When writing a novel, a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature.”

Now this is where I get in trouble. I’m currently working on my fourth novel, (the other three were released by Black Opal Books over the past few years), but my ‘people’ are not doing what they are supposed to be doing. I am not insane and invisible entities do not talk to me while I write or go about my daily life chores but the people in my novels do what they do. Yes, there is an overall theme I am working on when sitting behind my desk in my office but the letter after letter minutiae is up to those I am including on the pages.

My spouse, lovely Laureen, thinks I’m nuts. She happens to have a Ph.D. in Brain Research and perhaps she knows something I don’t but then again, I have Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology. My degree negates hers, or at least I’d like to believe that is the case whenever my wife disagrees with me. I’m certain every husband understands this struggle.

Okay, my characters – sorry, Ernest – my people move about the pages of my writing like nymphs in the forest. Darting here and there and sometimes I will actually stop the movement of my fingers on the keyboard and wonder what the hell is going on.

Jonas Peters – one of two of my main protagonists – ends up in Peru and threatens an admiral of the Peruvian Navy. That wasn’t in the plans at the beginning of my latest novel but it’s there now. Frank Sanders – the other protagonist – ends up killing a couple of bad guys one dark and not-so-stormy night. Again, wasn’t in the plans but it’s there now.

The point of this that is sometimes writing just happens and however it works is fine. Characters are not real but may feel that way when you spend months upon months creating the lives they lead, the pain they experience along with the occasional joys bestowed on them.

Maugham was correct – as long as you write with sincerity and passion you cannot go wrong. Writing comes from the heart or should. That will be evident with your readers.

Hemingway was also correct – your ‘characters’ must be real people and not just fictional creatures. One dimension does not work for the mind and should not for any sort of writing. Readers must believe that person they view on a page in a novel should be someone they could recognize on a street corner.

One day, while Laureen was waiting for a plane in Dallas she called and said: “Yuri is in the airport. He’s here.”

Yuri is a fictional person from my novel – Soft Target. She saw him sitting at a bar.

I just smiled and told her to have a safe flight.

Characters can be real – not just for the writer.

Just saying.

John Beyer Bio:

Former street cop, training officer and member of SWAT John Beyer has been writing most of his life. He’s traveled to at least 23 countries (and was actually shot in the head in Spain in 2000 during a march between Neo Nazis and Communists two days after running with the bulls in Pamplona). He was caught in a hurricane off the coast of east Baja (Bahia de los Angeles) while kayaking and lived to tell about it. Essentially, it’s hard to tell where experience leaves off and fiction takes over. You’ll want to read his books.

Twitter: @Drjohnrbeyer
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