I saw a quote in Panera the other day. A cute quote about a preference for coffee over compliments, attributed to one of my favorite authors: Louisa May Alcott. Being the good little detail-oriented researcher that I am, I went home and looked it up.
Indeed, the words were penned by Alcott. But they were spoken through the lips of her character, Amy, the youngest sister in Little Women.
I found myself conflicted about that. Authors are quoted through the words of their characters all the time. And while I’m glad acknowledgement is given to the creator of those words, I find myself concerned.
As a writer, I create all kinds of characters who say a wide variety of things. Sometimes they say things I don’t agree with. Obviously. Because without tension between characters, your plot is as interesting as your Uncle Joe’s third retelling of the time he caught that massive bass.
Not every character we create is going to say wonderful things that reflect our opinions and perspectives. We use dialog to create tension, to reflect moods, to stir emotions within the reader. So where’s the line when it comes to attributing those words directly to the author, bypassing the character entirely?
I don’t know. But I find it troubling.
And I feel the need to say this: I love coffee. So when my character says derogatory things about coffee, don’t you attribute it to me directly. That opinion belongs to the person in my head, capiche?
Glad we cleared that up.