Karen Brichoux

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"Draws the reader into the story and never lets go." --RT Bookclub
"Brichoux reminds the reader how powerfully the landscape of 'home' can define a person." -- High Country News
Previously Released
"An exceptional novel." --Melissa Senate, author of The Solomon Sisters Wise Up
"A coup. Warm, smart, and original." --Kirkus Reviews


Characters: Part II

July 27, 2003

August 2003 Newsletter

Characters Part II: Be Thou My Vision....

Before I get started I have two announcements:

1. During the month of August, I’m giving away five signed copies of Coffee and Kung Fu--one each Friday. So if you or someone you know would like a signed copy, please see my website, http://www.karenbrichoux.com, for details.

2. I just found out that Coffee and Kung Fu will be translated into Hungarian! What a trip to not be able to read something I wrote! (Unless I learn Hungarian between now and the time the translation is released....)

Be Thou My Vision. The reason I’m robbing (and twisting) the title of that beautiful church hymn for this installment is simple: A character’s vision of the world is--or should be--the writer’s vision.


Because each one of us is unique. We hear that a lot thanks to pop psychology, but it’s true. Three people involved in the same car accident will not remember the same details or have the same emotions during or about the accident. If they did, the police wouldn’t bother to question more than one person at the scene.

Each one of us is unique because we have each seen the bully in Kindergarten, the head cheerleader, the old Mustang, Mom, Dad, Cousin Charley ... the world ... through our own eyes. An honest recall of events in our pasts should result in different memories. An honest assessment of the world around us should result in different opinions, different visions.

The trouble is, we’re pack animals (as in wolf pack). And we want to fit in with what the people around us think and believe and say and do. So when five teenagers walk out of a movie, no one wants to give an opinion until someone else does. So when an author sits down to write a book, she or he is suddenly wondering how to create a character that the editor or agent will love. “Will my heroine be likeable and sympathetic enough?” the author asks herself. “Is my hero’s fatal flaw forgivable?” another author asks himself.

And a character which would have sprung forth from the author’s vision as an honest, creative, thinking character, shrivels into an imitation of something the author read yesterday or watched on the latest made-for-television movie.

What makes a character honest? An author being willing to risk telling his or her honest emotions, viewpoints, ideas ... vision. An honest author with an honest vision will create characters who can see.

Is it possible for an author to be 100% honest with himself or herself all the time? Probably not. But that shouldn't stop authors--or anyone--from trying.