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 May, 2006


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Lifecycle of a Character: Death

by Sandy Tritt


            Great characters never die. Never. They live on in our imaginations forever, touching our lives and our hearts. This is not to say that they cannot cease to breathe within our pages. In fact, it is sometimes physical death that inspires immortality. Once you have given life, nothing, not even death, can erase a great character’s impact upon the lives of its reader.

            So—giving life to a character is much like being a parent. We do the best we can for our characters, give them years of our lives, our love and understanding, but the day comes when they rebel and say, “Enough. Let me be me,” and we must then allow them to live their own lives. And that is when we’ve truly given life.

(c) copyright 2002 by Sandy Tritt. All rights reserved, except for those listed here. November be reproduced for educational purposes (such as for writer's workshops), as long as this copyright notice and the url: http://tritt.wirefire.com are distributed with the pages. For use in conferences or other uses not mentioned here, please contact Sandy Tritt at tritt@wvadventures.net for permission and additional resources at no or limited charge.

   Keep writing!

Sandy Tritt

Inspiration for Writers tritt@wvadventures.net

Critiquing Special

  • Limited time special, one cent per word.  Just mention Publishing New Writers  Newsletter (May, 2006).

    Critiques by Sandy Tritt

  • Unlike most editors, I consider my role to be a mentor or a coach. Instead of just telling you what is wrong, I explain how to correct the problem, and I work with you to teach you how to write effective prose. More than 50% of my business is repeat business, and I relish establishing long-term relationships with other writers.

  • Treat you with respect and compassion. All criticism will be of the "constructive" sort. My purpose is to improve your writing, not to destroy your confidence.

  • Mark your manuscript, correcting grammatical and spelling errors and suggesting alternative wording where appropriate, line-by-line.

  • Highlight areas that are especially well-written, so you will know where your strengths are.

  • Where appropriate, offer suggestions for plot development, character development or other areas that could be strengthened.

  • Return a two-to-four page written analysis of your work. This will include evaluation of: plot, setting, characterization, dialogue, special effects (flash forwards, flashbacks, etc.), voice, point of view and any other areas particular to your work.

  • If appropriate, recommend reading or resources to strengthen your areas of weakness.

  • Answer any questions you  have via email.

  • Provide my telephone number for a personal follow-up, if you desire.

For Sandy's success stories, see http://tritt.wirefire.com/Manuscript_Critique.html

Write Sandy at tritt@wvadventures.net


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Publishing New Writers,

May, 2006 (no. 705)


Publisher: Bruce L. Cook, P.O. Box 451, Dundee, IL 60118.  Fax (847) 428-8974.

Submissions/comments  cookcomm@gte.net.

Links are welcome.


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Writing in the Present

by Tinashe Mushakavanhu (Zimbabwe)

I was born in the early 80’s, soon after Zimbabwe’s independence. I never witnessed the liberation struggle but came into the world just at the right time to add numbers and celebrate the dawn of a new black democracy.

I only began to understand what was going on around me through reading. But, how could reading have been so important when I grew up on an anorexic reading diet?

As a child, I read the Hardy Boys, the Famous Five and the Nancy Drew series, which talked about American life. I wanted to be American. I dreamt American. I envied everything American.

It was only when I went to high school that I discovered Zimbabwean writing. I didn’t know until then that Zimbabwean people wrote books. The school library became for me a sanctuary to explore and discover books and more books about my people. I couldn’t believe the rush I felt once I discovered and read Dambudzo Marechera, Shimmer Chinodya, Charles Mungoshi and Yvonne Vera. I accumulated and gained a totally new insight about our lives as Zimbabwean people, as if I had been an outsider and was finally let in.

To discover that our lives held so much significance and importance just like the American life was exhilarating.

I still vividly remember moments I would sit under library tables or hide behind colossal bookshelves and read books like Bones by Chenjerai Hove, The House Hunger by Dambudzo Marechera and Harvest of Thorns by Shimmer Chinodya. What drew me to these books was not so much their literary value and quality but the little, trivial vulgarities.

With the curiosity of a pubescent mind, I read and re-read the sexual scenes in Dambudzo Marechera’s books in a bid to understand what sex felt like, and why it was one of the most favoured and complex human preoccupations. This confession now sounds silly and embarrassing, but that beginning made a lasting impression on my young mind. With time, I began to read not for curiosity’s sake but to learn and understand the complexities and challenges facing my people.

What disappointed me was that more and more books were still being written on the past, on the war. I was fed up with guns and blood and splintered brains. There was a proliferation of ‘war’ books, as if the war was the only thing that mattered. I now wanted to read something about myself. The weak point in the Zimbabwean literary discourse has been that our literature still hangs in the past. It needs to move along with time.

Most of our literature which appeared from the early 1970s through to the late 1980s to the 1990s stressed our dignity as a black people. We were telling the world who we were and what colonialism had done wrong. Times have changed. Writers should not try to create and justify our existence anymore. We are here. We are proud. New literary output should make sense of us to ourselves.

The thematic stasis in Zimbabwean literature has even led young writers astray – they think that by writing a war story, they would easily get published. How can budding writers, so young like myself, ‘born frees’ write good war stories when they never witnessed the liberation war. I have only seen blazing guns and bomb blasts on my favorite childhood TV action film, The A Team.

Now writers no longer need to write about colonialism but rather focus on how it still affects a now independent Zimbabwe. The issues tackled in Pawns, Waiting for the Rain and The Non-Believer’s Journey have changed. We are living in a new period and the new generations of readers and critics need to read books that are relevant to them.

Writers have the power to show us who we truly are; they hold the mirror for society to look at itself and reflect on current affairs. If writers fail to write about what is going on around them, how will we know where we are going?

Obviously, Zimbabwe is going through difficult times, and there are many contradictions but there is also a greater openness to creative possibilities than probably anywhere else. Writers cannot close their eyes to what is happening around them. Contrary to what many believe, engagement does not emerge from the urge to being ‘political’ but from circumstances in which politics control life.

True literature tars up the script of what we think life ought to be. It destroys our preconceptions and bubbles illusions. That is why we can’t ask new literature to be like the old; it has to take us to new worlds and possibilities than before.

Sadly, there is still very little fiction published of the “new Zimbabwe” and ironically Zimbabwe has been much in the news in recent years. Hardly a month goes without the publication of some book or other factual summary of its economics, politics, peoples, history, present condition and putative future. And yet it is fiction that can provide the imaginative insight into the life of ordinary Zimbabweans may even give a greater understanding of what goes on, and what lies behind what goes on as reflected in some of the stories in A Roof to Repair (2000), No More Plastic Balls (2000), Writing Still (2003) and Writing Now (2005).

Literature liberates. That is why the fiction matters. It gives each one of us an opportunity to encounter other possibilities and understand ourselves.









Ghettoization or Globalization Of African Literature


by Raïs Neza Boneza

Transcend Africa Network

When considering Africa or analyzing world history from the fourteenth century, one could assert that the world’s history is dominated by warfare, conquests, wars, slavery and dominations. Consequently that led to the establishment of the Global system.  Since then, globalization has became more sophisticated and has changed its techniques of enslavement through imposing industrialization and an abusive marketization which has resulted to a massive subjugation and de-humanization world-wide.  

Today, in this mess, Africa is totally deprived of its sovereignty, strangled economically and culturally by globalization. This continent has been sacrificed upon the Altar of the IMF and World Bank Policies; sick from poverty, diseases, and corrupt leadership. As Ngugi wa Thiongo pointed out in his lecture at Girvetz Theater in 2004:

“Globalization has weakened the post-colonial state to the point where the states are too weak to interfere with the operations of international finance, so those finances can come and go at will". "Outside, non-governmental organizations begin operating as modern-day missionaries, secular missionaries that become parallel states not beholden to the state itself." 

With a seemingly narrow point of view, the west shows prejudice at all times toward the African continent. For example Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness can almost be described as prejudiced, racist and anti-African. All this is the norm. Even in our time some critics consider the African writer as an aspiring westerner, an unfinished artifact that in time and with adequate guidance will be westernized.  

Many African writers want to be recognized as just “writers” being part of a world literature. But the only African authors to receive recognition are those who manage to make it to the main western production networks and are promoted or confirmed by the media. For them, England, France or the US, with their large chains of publishing houses and distribution networks, appear to be the only places that can offer them international recognition.   It is a difficult challenge to decide to become a writer in Africa; generally the African writer evolved from a space devoid of advantages.

In this Global context how can the African writer try to go beyond his singularity and integrate what we call the global or world literature?

 As the west has managed to ghettoize Africa through its imperial domination and polarization of wealth and knowledge, the arena of world literature seems not to include Africa. Africa is under exogenous domination and has never been able to impose its own criteria of appreciation. This makes its literature vulnerable to marginalization.

 African literature cannot benefit the continent as long as it remains under total Global influences from the west. It owes its richness today from its oral traditions, to the diversity of its culture and languages which have had a strong influence on the apostles of negritude such as Aimee Cesaire or Nobel price winner Wole Soyinka.

Marketization and caricatured identity of the African writer

Since a book is a product that must be sold, African marketing of books is negligible since Africa’s priorities are more concentrated on its wars, political instabilities and diseases.   In Africa, books are still an unaffordable luxury. The average price of a book in Europe can be the equivalent of a monthly wage of many workers in Africa, and may feed a family for several days.  But on the other side, when we talk about global market controlled by the west;   if the European publisher would like to sell his product, he will probably prefer the author of the book to be marketable.  Therefore the African writer finds himself between in a continuing war. When trying to maintain their Africanity, on the other hand the African writer has to sell their soul to the devil of globalization.  For example, an African writer writing in the western country becomes detached from their homeland and maintains mostly a vague memory of their far-belonging-land. They are de-rooted and have to cure this handicap through “a cultural imagery,” trying to overcome their fear of not belonging anywhere and nowhere.  The writer adopts a caricatured identity, presenting himself as “Citoyen du Monde”.  In his new clothed identity as “World’s Citizen,” the African writer lives in a constant exile since he lives in a society of fantasy, a virtual Ghetto. 


Africa is not imagery, or a world of fantasy with its Safari, elephants, and lions.  But it is as real as reality itself. Africa is a continent with nations and millions of people; not a remote part of the globe far out of the reach of civilized nations.  Today, we speak of the African Union, and all the different initiatives to improve economical and social conditions in Africa. The African writer’s role is more than ever crucial in the fight to liberate Africa from local and foreign oppressors. This role cannot be the same as that of writers in other less tormented and less afflicted continents. And yet the need for engagement remains. As Ngugi said, “values, cultures, politics and economics are all tied up together” and woe unto the writer who fails to realize this.  In the same sense, African writers who claim the right to be recognized and have a place in the global literature may not be able to achieve this if they do not play their role as African writer to re-construct, their homeland and plant in their society a sense of purpose. They should first and fully assume their Africanity.











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