Monday, October 14, 2013

~ The Wizard of Oz ~

Every good writer I've ever read about began with an insatiable appetite for books, for plundering what is in them, for the nourishment provided by them, that you can't get from any other source.

                                           - Richard Bausch

I recently attended a showing of 'The Wizard of Oz' in IMAX-3D, to celebrate it's 75th year.You better believe those flying monkeys were scary this time.!!! But it got me thinking about what wonderful CHARACTERS this movie, this story gave us. What kind of genius mind could come up with such characters that had lived with us these 75 years and are as real as you and I? Thank you L. Frank Baum. The theater was filled with every generation, the vast majority of whom has seen this movie again and again.  As we were exiting the theater, I overheard a conversation between a mother and her daughter who appeared to be about 6 years old. Her mom said " Are you happy we came?" the little girl looked up with wide eyes and said, "Oh yes, I loved it. But I was very worried." This little girl summed up the sentiment of decades of movie goers. So what brings us back time after time? Why are we so willing to suspend disbelief and go skipping down the yellow brick road?

It is the hope of every writer that we will create characters that are so believably lovable or even so believably bad (like the wicked witch), that they will be memorable long after the last page has been turned and the book placed back upon dusty shelves. Of course the key word here is believable. The characters in The Wizard of Oz were believable even in their unbelievable circumstances. This was due to fabulous writing and consummate acting. Those actors were NEVER out of character for one moment, even when the scene was not focusing on them. They were true to their character, and they were so good at it, that we believed them too.

Our job as a writer is to do the same thing for our audience. We must believe in our characters, and write them in such a way that they are always able to be true to themselves. Whatever the story may be, large or small, from the greatest literary character to the smallest ant in a children's book. Of course it might be a little easier to write such larger than life characters, for subtlety is a difficult art. But it is the job of the writer to make every character someone you can root for, fall in love with or root against. I told someone recently, that if the reader doesn't CARE about your character, they are not going to care if she's hanging from the rooftop by her fingertips. Easier said than done, I know.

Who is one of your all time favorite literary characters, and why?

And in the mean time I say,
"Oh please Mr. Wizard, it would be so much easier to write.......if I only had a brain."


  1. Its Elementary, my dear Terri Lee , Sherlock Holmes because he could solve ANYTHING

  2. I have always had a special place in my heart for Wizard of Oz and I have a terrible time deciding which is my favorite character so I have always left that open. I love each and everyone of them for their own special reasons, like you said they each were so believe-able. I truly believed the scarecrow was made of straw, tin man would rust when drenched with liquid and the lion could be afraid of his very own tail. Mr Baum was indeed the "bomb"! : )

    1. Alright PeaceLover, I won't force you to choose.Your heart is too big to choose only one. :)

  3. My all-time favorite character is from my childhood, Claudia Kincaid, from "The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler." Claudia Kincaid. She's only 12, but intelligent, a stickler for grammar, and a great planner. She feels unappreciated by her parents and decides to run away from home with her brother, but her tastes are too refined to just run to any old place, so they run away to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I love Claudia's intelligence and determination. I re-read it occasionally and still love it after all these years.

    1. Nyte; I've never heard of this book but it sounds charming. In fact I'd probably like to read it today even though I'm all grown up. Well.....mostly grown up. :)


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