Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Writer’s Talk interviews Lynda Barry

Writer’s Talk: Writing through Reading is an online course offered by Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer through The New York Times Knowledge Network and the University of Toronto School for Continuing Studies. This term Lynda Barry visited and charmed us completely with her unique approach to writing and her generosity. The Q&A is student led and is particular in its direction.

WT: I was wondering how you create/build your characters. Do you know them beyond the story, or are they created/built simply to forward the plot?

Lynda Barry: One thing I do know about characters is that they hardly ever come from planning and thinking. The ones that do tend to be horrible. I don’t know if you are old enough to remember “Joe Camel” - he was a character invented to help sell Camel cigarettes.

He was most likely the product of a whole lot of meetings and a whole lot of thinking and a whole lot of focus groups. All kinds of input went into creating him, including making the shape of his face like a penis and testicles. It was supposed to work but as a character he never caught on.

Read the full interview here.

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