In childhood, we spent days imagining and creating. It was the most natural thing to do. A cardboard box suddenly sprang to life as an elaborate dollhouse waiting to be painted bubblegum pink, while the doll itself was being fashioned from cotton balls, yarn, and a clothespin. When snow cascaded from heaven, we made a fat snowman and sat him on a wall. Then we created a king’s man from the frost to guard the snowman and ensure he didn’t fall. These childhood memories and a supercharged imagination follow some into adulthood where fiction is created. This is why good writers are called creatives.
And this is where the creative arts strut its stuff, where dreams and fears and experiences produce extraordinary narratives. Be it a dystopian tale, a fantastic fantasy, or a sizzling romance, every computer keystroke or pen stroke you make can be the small steps on a journey that culminates in a viable story.
What is a creative anyway? We’re told that “A creative is an artist . . . [A]n ‘artist’ usually refers to someone who paints, composes music, or writes novels. But the word ‘creative’ is much broader than that; a creative is a person who sees the world a bit differently than the average person” (Cabog}.
Like children, writers see the world a bit differently, as through a kaleidoscope of “what ifs.” An ordinary ladder beneath a window is fodder for a story. What if the ladder is there for a young woman to climb down and elope? A street dog lazes in the shade of a magnolia tree. What if he’s destined to save a boy from drowning and finds himself a loving forever home? A woman with eyes that wobble drinks a cup of cold stale coffee in the rain. What if her type of character could create a riveting story? What type of character could she be? Hmmm . . . Ah, she could be a lost soul.
Many writers craft intriguing tales that include shadowy characters like the lost soul. We are familiar with lost souls. We’ve seen them before. Some have a vacant stare or a faraway glint in their eyes. Other lost souls can interact with society and can act normally for a short time. They can even be sensual. But eventually, the “something is wrong with them” feeling will soon emerge in our thoughts. Here’s what we can generally surmise about them:
Morrell explains that “Lost souls are characters that have lost an important aspect, if not all of their humanity. These types are not easily categorized, but they are anti-heroes or kin to dark heroes. Often misunderstood, they are outcasts, wanderers, and loners alienated from the human race” (262).
Good writers are called creatives because they must understand their subjects to the point that they create believable characters. When it comes to lost souls, the writer knows to weave into the story, loneliness, the feelings of not belonging, and never being able to belong to society.
Lost souls live “off the beaten path,” that is, in places with which the average person is not familiar. This is where worldbuilding will do its part to further create a mesmerizing journey. The writer will need to use her imaginative prowess to build a haunt for the lost soul, be it in an obscure loft on the edge of town or a boxcar in a defunct railway yard.
In the novel, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, author Stieg Larsson creates a character who is a lost soul. She is a young woman named Lisbeth Salander. Her appearance is gothic; she sports tattoos and body piercings and drives a motorcycle. She has been appointed a guardian since the time she was a minor, being deemed mentally incompetent. Her present attorney is an unsavory character who handles her financial affairs and tells the court that she cannot care for herself.
Besides Lisbeth’s appearance, she is reticent, standoffish, unsmiling, and untrusting of people, furthering people’s assumption that she is mentally challenged. Her guardian sexually assaults her. She unintentionally catches the rape on video and uses it to blackmail him into relinquishing his guardianship over her and to state to the court that she can handle all of her affairs including her finances.
Lisbeth, a hacker with exceptional intelligence and investigative abilities, helps the male protagonist solve the disappearance of his family member.
Larsson creates a multi-faceted lost soul who is fascinating and stirs our emotions. We are left empty when we read the novel's last page and know Lisbeth will no longer be in our lives. Good writers are called creatives, and Stieg Larsson was a great one.
We don’t always get a close-up look at lost souls but when we do, they add a dynamic spark to an otherwise average story. Can you think of other lost soul characters? Here are a few:
Good writers are called creatives because writing is an art. A writer’s paintbrush is a writing instrument where they use colorful words to craft dialogue, characters, and plot twists. Their narratives must be tightly woven, or why bother writing them? They make their lost souls so life-like that you can hear them draw a breath.
Images created with Dream by Wombo