Character is King – Aye Write!


This is the tenth year of the Aye Write! festival, my favourite book event in my favorite city, but due to work commitments and a holiday, I could only fit in one visit to Aye Write! this year.

photoOne of the headline acts I went to see was Irvine Welsh, a writer whose work I’ve enjoyed in books and films. The gritty urban Scots dialect used in Trainspotting gave writers like me permission to really go for it and give their characters an authentic voice.


His latest novel, A Decent Ride, sees the return of one of the characters from Glue, with Juice Terry Lawson taking a lead role. Irvine didn’t just read an excerpt featuring Juice Terry and a new character, Jonty, he performed the scenes and it felt more like watching a stage play than a book event.  It’s because characters like Juice Terry and Jonty are so well drawn that although their behaviour and the wild scenarios they find themselves might be extreme, as a reader you believe they’re real people. And that’s what makes Irvine’s writing so powerful.

photo.JPG ccI also went to Karen Dunbar’s event at Aye Write. This was billed as ‘The Books That Made Me’ and as a fan of Karen’s comedy roles in shows like Chewin’ the Fat, I was interested to hear about the books she felt made an impression on her.  Again, this event was more like a chat show with Karen having the audience in stitches with her down-to-earth style and natural humour.

Karen has fond memories of receiving the book as a gift from her big sister.

The book was a gift from Karen’s big sister.

Karen took a linear approach to her book selection and as part of that ‘journey’ she told the story of her first open audition at the Comedy Unit.  The importance of great characterisation was highlighted again as Karen decided to attend the audition in the role of an old woman which made it easy to express her talent.

Both events were excellent; Irvine and Karen demonstrated that if you get the character right, the rest will follow.

Is character more important than plot in your writing?

7 thoughts on “Character is King – Aye Write!

  1. Welsh’s book got good review in today’s Scotland on Sunday. Never made it to Aye Write yet, but it’s on my list of events to attend at least once. Characters and ploy both matter to me, but it’s the characters that stay with me afterwards.

    • Yes, getting the combo right is important but as you say, you might not remember every twist and turn of a book you love but you always remember the characters. Hope you make it to Aye Write! one day. 🙂

  2. Irvine was fantastic (as already discussed). I’m also intrigued by the Books that Made Me series. I haven’t managed to attend any of them yet but hopefully I’ll make it to one before the end of the festival. I keep thinking of what mine would be but of course they change daily (if not minute by minute)! x

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s