Writing is akin to Playing Dolls
I woke up this morning in an “aha!” moment- I had the great realization that writing is akin to playing dolls. This goes for the guys too! I played with Tressy, Penny Brite and Barbie-I am also showing my age. The men I know played with GI Joe and then there was He Man and Skeletor and, well, you can name the others.
Writing was not something that I did as a child. I marvel at those of us who say they were writing their first stories and creating their own books as little ones. I read. And read. And read. The other thing I loved to do was play dolls and to create rooms, whole apartments, out of construction paper. Probably my first dolls were made of paper. The first were those my mother made by folding paper and, magically, after making a few cuts, voila! A string of paper dolls! I would talk for them and, boy, would they have conversations. These conversations I found were known as dialogue when I began taking my first writing classes as an adult.
In one particular class, the instructor concentrated on the dialogue. There should be no scenery, no back ground. The object was to prove that I could write those spare sentences that sounded as though there was more than one voice, two, or sometimes three. That was simple. I’d been talking in my head and sometimes aloud for my dolls, paper, plastic or otherwise for years as a kid.
The next thing was character development. I created the whole of my characters histories just as intricately involved as though they were people that really existed. All of my dolls had personalities. Would who expect Skipper, Barbie’s little sister, to ever say the same thing as Midge, her best friend, would? Really! Each doll and each character I’ve written about has their own special take on life, their own quirks and their own wardrobes-even if they occasionally shared shoes. Don’t best friends share clothes? In my first novel, Woman Found, Daisy and Letty are close. Letty puts up with Daisy’s shenanigans because they go way back. Their relationship goes further than the first page, they have a history that bolsters the story that we read and that is apparent.
Those apartments I made out of construction paper and, sometimes loose-leaf paper, comprised the background scenery for my characters. The dolls managed to walk through the 3-D walls I created with the aid of scotch tape. These structures didn’t have ceilings so I could place my characters where I wanted them. But just as in my writing I’d find my dolls where I hadn’t purposely placed them and then I just sat back and listened. Where do my dolls, ahem, my characters want to go? If I’m smart enough I follow them around-sometimes they know just a little bit more than me. Whole new storylines are created because I let my characters tell me what they want or who they really are-just as my Beautiful Crissy did!
So, I’m glad I had those dolls to start me in creating dialogue, character development and background/scenery creation. I’m happy that I learned to ‘talk in my head’ and that I’ve transferred that ability to talking on paper.