A.L. Kennedy on Writing

Penguin Blog

An accomplished novelist and short story writer, and a professor of creative writing at the University of Warwick, A. L. Kennedy understands the perils of relying on real life to draw your fictional characters. In this extract from On Writing, Kennedy describes the responsibility of invading a reader’s space, and how not to fill your fiction with the ghosts of your past.

It would hardly be fair if a reader was asked to expend mental energy and invest their interest in a fiction inhabited by characters who seemed unfeasible and frankly less interesting than the genuine, human people they could be meeting and interacting with, if they weren’t suffering through this or that dreadful book. Hopefully, the effect of a finished character will be convincing, involving, idiosyncratic, natural – in short, real. There are, of course, schools of thought which maintain that providing fully formed characters is just…

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