“On Writing A Creep”

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Jowita Bydlowska muses about how authors can bear to write about jerks, for Hazlitt.

Assholes are necessary to a story in the sense that their baffling behavior makes for a better story. However, getting into the mind frame of these characters can cause distress in the mind of an author. Does an author need to be an asshole to create an asshole character? For some, writing these characters becomes a dreamlike activity:

“But I recently talked to another writer who’s written a book from the point of view of a disturbed character. In Noah’s Turn, Ken Finkleman writes about a man who kills his close friend in an outburst of jealous rage, bludgeoning him to death with a machete.Finkleman has no recollection of working on Noah’s Turn—he refers to the writing of it as a ‘sort of a state I was in’—and he has some difficulty recalling how it actually felt to write his protagonist. He says that the character was an exaggeration of someone he knew, but in essence it was a conglomeration of different personalities he knew.”


Jack Taylor is a Rumpus Intern, gangly fellow, and Steal the Bacon enthusiast. More from this author →