My guest this week is Mary Welk, author of novels, novellas, and short stories, including "Hickory, Dickory, Doc."
When interviewed by Mary Buckham and Dianna Love for BreakIntoFiction.com’s “Five for Five Writers Extravaganza”, author Jane Porter had this to say about the craft of writing: “Great fiction requires great characters. Avoid stereotypes!”
Realism was one characteristic I hoped to infuse in Dr. Ben Benjamin when I created him for the short story “
Doc”. Given the plot and setting, I
needed my veterinarian to be both an ‘insider’ and an ‘outsider’—someone who
was part of the Maryland horse country crowd, but didn’t wholly belong to it—in
order to be viewed by readers as a realistic protagonist for this particular
story. I also needed his status to be obvious from the start. Hickory
To accomplish this, I began my tale by introducing Ben in the company of Lawrence Wainsworth III. The very name ‘Lawrence Wainsworth III’ conjures up images of landed gentry and old money. Toss in the fact that he owns a blue ribbon horse named King Tut and the stable Tut lives in and you can pretty much figure good old
isn’t worried about where his next meal is coming from. Lawrence
Ben is the complete opposite of Wainsworth when it comes to money and social status. Rather than describe this difference through a lot of background narrative, I let Ben explain his position in the community in two brief but telling sentences. His comments are in response to Wainsworth’s description of an argument that occurred during a chic party at the local country club.
Who was I to doubt Larry's story? He'd been a ringside witness to the main event, while I, Dr. Ben Benjamin, youthful veterinarian to some of the most pampered horses in the state of Maryland, hadn't even been invited to the Hunt Club Ball.
Ben’s social standing is now clearly delineated for the reader; he may walk and talk with the rich, but the young vet is still considered a servant, albeit a highly educated one. Ben’s financial condition is likewise revealed when Wainsworth asks a favor of him. Ben responds thus:
I hesitated only a second.
Wainsworth III was a good guy. He was also a very wealthy man. Visions of
unpaid student loans danced in my head as I screwed on a smile and replied,
“Sure, Larry.” Lawrence
The dissimilarities between the two characters are further explored when Wainsworth says,
“Jack Fielding and I went to school together at
Prep. I can guarantee you no
graduate of that institution would ever stoop to something as plebeian as
stabbing a man with a steak knife." Mansfield
And Ben’s thoughts on this are: Larry uttered that truism with sublime self-assurance, then dismissed me with a soldier-like two-finger salute. I felt a bit like
Wonderland as I threw my medical bag in the back of my pickup, climbed into the
cab, and switched on the ignition. I did a good job of keeping a straight face
until I passed between the big stone pillars that
guarded the entrance to the Wainsworth property. Then I let out a hoot that
could have been heard clear back to town.
My best client had just waved the old school tie in my face, and while I
had no doubt of his sincerity, Larry's defense of his former classmate tickled
my funny bone. Apparently graduates of Alice
Prep were not above killing off their enemies as long as it was done in a
dignified manner. Mansfield
Creating credible characters is always a challenge. Often, the best way to answer that challenge is to let the characters speak for themselves.
ABOUT MARY WELK