Posted in Book Stuff

fascinating reflections on character in fiction

Roundness” is impossible in fiction, because fictional characters, while very alive in their way, are not the same as real people. It is subtlety that matters – subtlety of analysis, of inquiry, of concern, of felt pressure – and for subtlety a very small point of entry will do.



Lilian is the author of Web of Angels, a novel about a mom with DID (multiple personalities). She's also the author of the historical novels, The River Midnight and The Singing Fire, about secrets, friendship and motherhood in 19th century Poland and London.

9 thoughts on “fascinating reflections on character in fiction

  1. It’s an interesting article, but a pity that the ‘ordinary reader’ gets it in the neck again. I do wish James Wood could stick to saying what he thinks about characters without denigrating ‘people in book clubs’ whom I doubt he knows or has ever heard discuss a novel. It would be better for him to get to the bottom of the idea of identifying with a character than to dismiss it as poor reading…..

    1. I agree with you, Litlove. What I liked best about the article was his examination of subtlety as a better measure of interesting characters than flat vs round, and also the range different authors’ skills with character.

  2. I didn’t realize this was Wood until I clicked through, but before I did, I thought – sounds like Wood! I am reading his How Fiction Works right now, and it is really wonderful.

    I’ll have a look for those short talks, as well.

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