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Why to show ONLY the tip of the iceberg when writing?p2

hand holding cup of vanilla ice cream
Photo by DS stories on Pexels.com


This is the main reason we end up adoring our character. We become intimate, cuates, bros, pals. Close enough to anticipate and become experts in what characters are to do or not to do. To believe something is logical or illogical through a given path and looking in retrospective.

Characters are the GPS. They tell us if something is shit hitting the fan.

They tell us things as:

  • History (yeah, believe it or not your historical circumstances make it out here)
  • Personal baggage
  • Complications
  • Fears
  • Wishes
  • Ice cream flavor (what about mint choco… Mine is cheese, if they can’t make cheese taste well, they can’t make nothing taste well and yes, that’s a double negation…)
  • Shoe size
  • Shoe brand (Nike or Vans?)


Domet, as a Scott Fitzgerald fan uses Jay Gatsby as an example of iceberg. She says HE, would choose a decadent and sickly sugary ice cream flavor like double choco mint, would buy his suits in Brooks Brothers and furnish his bedroom in mahogany.

I, of course, disagree a little. Not for the moor of disagreeing but because; unlike Domet, I have a graphic background. And in graphic language there are pre-established symbols and personal images to the way of Milan Kundera’s personal dictionaries[1], The pre-established symbolism takes me to marble instead of wood (it is bigger and grandiose). Whilst my poor and not showable off knowledge of the world, makes me think vanilla; a lot less rich and sometimes tasteless but quite elegant and safe. About the clothes, I have no idea. I didn’t use to know Savile Row and haven’t seen a single Brook Brothers.

Nonetheless, knowing the character as something we barely look at (our hand’s palm), is very difficult given the fact even 3D people is quite incomprehensible. Yet, characters are never as complicated or able or so much as of being random in their doing.


Some of these questions belong to 90 days to your novel, Sarah Domet’s book. Some others are of my own concoction.

  • What does the character wants from life?[2]
  • Mate, tea, cocoa or coffee? Sugar? Milk?
  • What’s their biggest trauma?
  • What’s their name’s meaning?
  • Where do they work at?
  • What’s their favourite music?
  • What do they use to wash their car? What car do they have?
  • What do they sleep in? Chanel no. 5, pijamas or old clothes?

REMEMBER. These questions are not the plot. They’re the compass to be sure what’s the right decision when facing a problem. Domet says they will give you a kinetic memory of what the character’s to do and say. Maybe, and just as an idea. To kill them from embarrassment.

Thus, have a great time writing. Pastol kalo.

[1] A single word may evoke different things for you than what it evokes in me. It is not the same to know a taco from Taco bell than expecting a maize tortilla filled in with anything from scrambled eggs to beans.  

[2] Great, even I don’t know that myself…

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