Writing Can Be Murder

January 8, 2007

Character Growth

Filed under: Uncategorized — jenniferelbaum @ 11:29 am

I believe that one of the reasons we enjoy reading fiction (besides HEAs and the bad guy/girl getting her due) is that characters grow.

 In any decent work of fiction, a character undergoes an arc and ends the story a better (hopefully) person than they are in the beginning.

 I was thinking about this as I  read a memoir, “Strange Piece of Paradise” by Terri Jentz. It’s a book about the journey (physical, emotional, historical) Ms. Jentz took to solve the mystery of finding the madman who attacked her and a friend with a hatchet in a state park in 1977. 

This is “real” life, not fiction and when I reached the end of the book (it’s a rather long memoir at 535 pages) I found myself disappointed. Why? Because I didn’t sense much growth in Ms. Jentz.

I’m not passing judgement, in fact I was in awe of her ability to tell her story with honesty. It would have been easy for her to say that by investigating this mystery she became a wiser, kinder, gentler soul. Instead, she bravely chose not to sugarcoat the end result. It’s a memoir, she’s allowed.

I doubt that a fiction writer could get away with the same thing. What do you think?


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