The Art Of Writing & Speaking The English Language : Chapter XIV by@sherwincody
543 reads

The Art Of Writing & Speaking The English Language : Chapter XIV

tldt arrow
Read on Terminal Reader

Too Long; Didn't Read

We have seen how a real incident is worked over into the fundamental idea for a composition. The same principle ought to hold in the use of real persons in making the characters in, a novel, or any story where character-drawing is an important item. In a novel especially, the characters must be drawn with the greatest care. They must be made genuine personages. Yet the ill-taste of “putting your friends into a story” is only less pronounced than the bad art or drawing characters purely out of the imagination. There is no art in the slavish copying of persons in real life.

People Mentioned

Mention Thumbnail

Company Mentioned

Mention Thumbnail
featured image - The Art Of Writing & Speaking The English Language : Chapter XIV
Sherwin Cody HackerNoon profile picture

@sherwincody

Sherwin Cody

Learn More
LEARN MORE ABOUT @SHERWINCODY'S EXPERTISE AND PLACE ON THE INTERNET.
react to story with heart

The Art Of Writing & Speaking The English Language Word-Study, by Sherwin Cody is part of HackerNoon Books Series. You can jump to any chapter in this book here.

CHAPTER XIV. THE USE OF MODELS IN WRITING FICTION.

We have seen how a real incident is worked over into the fundamental idea for a composition. The same principle ought to hold in the use of real persons in making the characters in, a novel, or any story where character-drawing is an important item. In a novel especially, the characters must be drawn with the greatest care. They must be made genuine personages. Yet the ill-taste of “putting your friends into a story” is only less pronounced than the bad art or drawing characters purely out of the imagination. There is no art in the slavish copying of persons in real life.

Yet it is practically impossible to create genuine characters in the mind without reference to real life. The simple solution would seem to be to follow the method of the painter who uses models, though in so doing he does not make portraits. There was a time in drawing when the school of “out-of-the-headers” prevailed, but their work was often grotesque, imperfect, and sometimes utterly futile in expressing even the idea the artist had in mind. The opposite extreme in graphic art is photography. The rational use of models is the happy mean between the two. But the good artist always draws with his eye on the object, and the good writer should write with his eye on a definite conception or some real thing or person, from which he varies consciously and for artistic purpose.

The ordinary observer sees first the peculiarities of a thing. If he is looking at an old gentleman he sees a fly sitting upon the bald spot on his head, a wart on his nose, his collar pulled up behind. But the trained and artistic observer sees the peculiarly perfect outline of the old man's features and form, and in the tottering, gait bent shoulders, and soiled senility a straight, handsome youth, fastidious in his dress and perfect in his form. Such the old man was once, and all the elements of his broken youth are clearly visible under the hapless veneer of time for the one who has an eye to see. This is but one illustration of many that might be offered. A poor shop girl may have the bearing of a princess. Among New York illustrators the typical model for a society girl is a young woman of the most ordinary birth and breeding, misfortunes which are clearly visible in her personal appearance. But she has the bearing, the air of the social queen, and to the artist she is that alone. He does not see the veneer of circumstances, though the real society girl would see nothing else in her humble artistic rival.

In drawing characters the writer has a much larger range of models from which to choose, in one sense. His models are the people he knows by personal association day by day during various periods of his life, from childhood up. Each person he has known has left an impression on his mind, and that impression is the thing he considers. The art of painting requires the actual presence in physical person of the model, a limitation the writer fortunately does not have. At the same time, the artist of the brush can seek new models and bring them into his studio without taking too much time or greatly inconveniencing himself. The writer can get new models only by changing his whole mode of life. Travel is an excellent thing, yet practically it proves inadequate. The fleeting impressions do not remain, and only what remains steadily and permanently in the mind can be used as a model by the novelist.

But during a lifetime one accumulates a large number of models simply by habitually observing everything that comes in one's way. When the writer takes up {the} pen to produce a story, he searches through his mental collection for a suitable model. Sometimes it is necessary to use several models in drawing the same character, one for this characteristic, and another for that. But in writing the novelist should have his eye on his model just as steadily and persistently as the painter, for so alone can he catch the spirit and inner truth of nature; and art. If it is anything, is the interpretation of nature. The ideal character must be made the interpretation of the real one, not a photographic copy, not idealization or glorification or caricature, unless the idealization or glorification or caricature has a definite value in the interpretation.

About HackerNoon Book Series: We bring you the most important technical, scientific, and insightful public domain books. This book is part of the public domain.

Cody, Sherwin, 2007. The Art Of Writing & Speaking The English Language Word-Study. Urbana, Illinois: Project Gutenberg. Retrieved April 2022 from https://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/19719/pg19719-images.html

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org, located at https://www.gutenberg.org/policy/license.html.

Photo by Waldemar Brandt on Unsplash

Sherwin Cody HackerNoon profile picture
by Sherwin Cody @sherwincody.American writer and entrepreneur who developed a long-running home-study course in speaking and writing
Read My Stories

RELATED STORIES

L O A D I N G
. . . comments & more!
Hackernoon hq - po box 2206, edwards, colorado 81632, usa