What might I write about if I were to "place the character in a contemporary setting facing a current-events issue"?As literary enthusiasts and critics, each member of the literary club is also a...

What might I write about if I were to "place the character in a contemporary setting facing a current-events issue"?

As literary enthusiasts and critics, each member of the literary club is also a writer. During this week’s discussion, you will be working on development of a new character and plan to share with the group.

  • Create a new character who
    • is real or imagined.
    • has a distinct manner of behaving or style of talking.
    • is not an existing character in literature, movies, or television.
  • Place the character in a contemporary setting facing a current-events issue.
  • Narrate a 5-paragraph episode or vignette in either of the following:
    • Raymond Carver's style
    • Anne Tyler’s style
  • Place this character in both
    • a situation in which he or she plays a public role (the public persona shown to others).
    • a situation showing the character's private persona (the real character when no one is watching).
Expert Answers
booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

So much of what will happen with your character depends directly upon the character YOU create. It is as if you will be "giving birth" to a new person, on paper: fully grown and developed as if having lived an entire life that has brought him or her to this point in time.

In looking for a current-events issue, I would have to address the recent death of Osama bin Laden; not because of any sense of sensationalism, but because a former student of mine, who I admired and loved, was killed on Christmas, several years ago. I clearly recall his choice to join the military, and it frightened me. He was resolved to go: to serve his country and come home, go to college, and be able to provide for his parents as they grew older. Everything that was admirable was found in this young man.

My experience is not, unfortunately, singular in any way: it is something many people have had to deal with, not only because of the war, but because of what started it in New York City, on September 11, 2001. And through all of this, thousands have suffered as these events have impacted a family member, spouse, friend, etc.

If I were to write about bin Laden's death, I believe my character would have to confront the death of a person widely perceived as the single man responsible for 9-11 and the war in Iraq. I would look to my character's humanity, and perhaps his (or her) struggle to come to terms with the death of a man as opposed to the death of a monster. You would choose whether or not your character would feel any sorrow for the passing of a life, or exultation with the death of a man who brought so much sorrow into the world with his hatred for Americans.

My sense is that to create a realistic character, you must be able to get into his heart and his head. You should address his/her "emotional conflict" which is usually expressed as "man vs himself," or is the…

...presence in the subconscious of different or opposing emotions relating to a situation...

A more interesting character is one who is conflicted—because that is a more realistic reaction of human beings: we are not one-dimensional creatures. Your character might be vindicated with bin Laden's death, yet feel guilty for finding satisfaction in the death of another human being.

With so much on the Internet about this aspect of our country's recent history, and the impact which the persona of bin Laden had on our country's collective psyche, I cannot help but imagine that a great deal will be available to you. By reading what others have to say, you can add to your knowledge of this time in order to "flesh out" your character.

If this were my assignment, this is what I would write about because it is something I "know," and therefore, my reactions would be "honest." If you really learn about your topic, your character's reactions will be honest as well.

Note: the link to "How to write a character analysis" (below) may provide you with a sense of some of the elements you might want to include with the characterization of the "person" you create in your writing.

lsumner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You could choose a character who is facing the possibility of being an outcast because he has chosen a heterogenously classified sex life. Your character could be ostracized because he has determined that he will remain true to himself and not be put off by people who feel his heterogeneous lifestyle is boring and/or incorrect.

Create the character as one who has chosen a heterogenous sex life and will not be persuaded to think his lifestyle is wrong.

What is wrong with being different is the question your character is facing. Why can't he be what he feels is a normal person? Can he be heterogenously classified in terms of his sex life and still be considered normal? Only time will tell.

When will society accept him for who he has chosen to be. He feels he was born to be heterogeneous and is sick and tired of the public condemning him for his lfestyle choices.