Characters are the heart of a story. And, if characters are the heart, then characterization is the blood that flows through a story, rendering the characters alive on the page and in the reader’s mind. Characterization is the description of a tall, dark stranger, the ongoing internal struggle that threatens to rip a man apart, or the subtle way she flicks her wrist, effortlessly, with grace. Whether a narrator, a protagonist, a minor character, or even a figure referenced but never appearing, a character in the hands of a talented writer leaps off the page and into our hearts, lodging there for a long time — maybe even forever.
The fiction writers in this fifth issue of Mason’s Road have skillfully created characters using a variety of methods. You’ll find masterful physical descriptions, as in “If Not Love,” “Birdie was squat as a pumpkin with plastered black hair; he didn’t talk, but made the odd grunt or burble,” and “Forgetting,” “His face marked with dark lines dug deep into his black skin, trenches telling stories days weren’t long enough to talk about.”
The authors make use of movements and gestures, as in “The Color of Love,” “She’d always say that with a laugh and a blast of cigarette smoke that puffed from her mouth like an old Ford with a bad exhaust,” and the 2012 Mason’s Road Literary Award-winning story, “The Rabbi’s Son,” “What further proof did I need than to witness how he knocked the tomes of Talmudic study from his father’s grasp and kicked the holy books into the dirt?” Finally, the authors paint cogent emotional pictures, as in “Carnelian,” “I’m in a punishing mood, and the gleam on my shoes offends me.”
We hope that in this issue of Mason’s Road you will enjoy meeting a variety of authentically rendered and poignant characters that will stay with you long after you’ve finished reading.
Stephanie Harper and Carolyn Brown