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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

They Ran!

They did! My characters stole my book and ran! At first, I tried to stop them, but then it became obvious they were far better writers than me and much faster, too. So I let them go with it. Three chapters in, I lost all control over my story. All of my preconceived notions about plot went out the window. My story line became something else entirely--something else entirely better, thanks to my screaming characters. I would be writing a scene, and one of my characters would stand up and shout, "Are you crazy? What do you think you are making me do? I wouldn't do that! I'd rather do this!" Yes, I'm admitting it. My characters wrote my book. Now, if only I could get them to land me an agent... I watched an interview with Jodi Picoult a while back where she talked about how her characters speak to her. I could relate, and it gave me affirmation that I'm not crazy. These make believe people that take over my thoughts are real. If I don't see them as that, and I don't give them a chance to be heard, I can not effectively write about them. I've heard a lot of talk about muses, and I finally realized my characters are my muse. Do your characters ever speak to you? (I don't mean in a creepy, weird kind of way. I mean in a creative, inspirational kind of way.) Or do you have another muse?

38 comments:

Corey Schwartz said...

If you have nay extra characters lingering and loitering and otherwise being annoying, send them my way! I haven't got a muse!

MeganRebekah said...

I am not sure they speak to me, but I know their personalities and their thoughts. And when something doesn't come out right, I know that too!

strugglingwriter said...

I think you are very lucky that your characters talked to you like this. Mine don't.

I would that I "become" my protagonist or my protagonist becomes me. That's not to say that I'm just putting a carbon copy of myself on paper, but I really inhabit the mind of my main character.

Stephanie Faris said...

I think the characters always drive the book along. Many times I'll have one thing in mind and it'll become another. But then, sometimes characters take me in the wrong direction...

Strange Fiction said...

The characters in my new WiP still feel a bit like cardboard cut outs to me but they are slowly coming alive and pulling me along in new directions. Good old Fred in my head would be my muse--when he deigns to show up.

Patti said...

I agree with Stephanie, sometimes characters can lead you astray. But there are also times when you think a character is only going to be a minor one and they end up being more.

Novice Writer Anonymous said...

They do a lot. Especially in the short stories and such that I've written.

Rae said...

I have voices inside my head but they aren't characters from a book. Hummm. Maybe I better get them checked out. I never gave them a thought until now. Now I gotta find out who is living in my head. LOL :)

Amber Lynae said...

I have talked with my characters, but they haven't come out to write my story.... yet. I wish they would , they know the events better than I do. :)

storyqueen said...

Sometimes. And often, not in ways I expect.

Shelley

Lazy Writer said...

Corey,
My characters are awol right now, but when they show back up, I'll try to send one or two of them in your direction.

Megan,
I guess that's kind of what I'm talking about. I don't actually hear voices. I more or less get into my characters head rather than them getting into mine.

Struggling Writer,
I know what you mean. When I was in that mode I felt like I was my characters.

Stephanie,
Yes, those characters can definitely be wrong sometimes!

Strange,
Yes, I've heard you mention Fred. He sound like a great guy! :)

Patti,
I've had those minor characters become big, too. I love it when that happens!

Novice,
Doesn't make writing so much easier?

Rae,
Let us know what you find out.

Amber,
Maybe if you ask them really nicely, they'll do it. :)

Storyqueen,
They do do some unexpected things, don't they?

Dominique said...

I once heard writing described as a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia. I think, in some ways, that's accurate. Most writers I know will tell you that their characters like to pop in and seize control of the moment.

One day, I wanted to character to focus on a place to sleep. Instead, she wanted to follow three kids and see where they went. She ended up sleeping under a bridge with a few new friends. I think the character usually knows what they're doing.

Lily said...

That's what happened to me in this book. Liz took off in a direction I hadn't planned.

If my characters aren't real to me, how will they be real to my audience? If I can't see them as whole 3-dimensional people, I've missed my mark...

Jenn Johansson said...

Yes, your characters sound an awful lot like my characters... maybe there is some kind of character conspiracy going on. They usually take charge whenever I am messing up the story.

I appreciate that. :P

Kim Kasch said...

Finding representation is, some say, as hard as finding a publisher. Keep searching.

jbchicoine said...

Personally, I’ve never been comfortable with the whole ‘muse’ thing. I had never even heard of a muse till after I started writing, and then I figured they only visited ‘real’ writers.

I don’t think I have one, but honestly, does Santa Clause ever visit anyone who doesn’t believe he exists?

…now, imaginary friends—that’s a whole ‘nother thing.

Jody Hedlund said...

That's so cool when the story just takes it's own path in a different way than you originally planned. I love when that happens! I'm not sure if I'd personally call it my characters speaking, but I think there are times when my creativity sparks from a low flame to a burning blaze!

Karen said...

My characters are nagging me all the time. Especially lately. Two of them keep bugging me to finish their story and I just keep finding other things to do.

I just hope I get them on paper before they give up on me!

jbchicoine said...

Okay, has anyone ever had a bunch of characters in something like a discontented group therapy session? You know, like, Leila says, “it’s all about me”; Kyle rebuts, “Hey, girl, you’re not the only one with a dysfunctional family.”; “Oh, yeah?” Ian interrupts, “Quit being whiny brats, you don’t know you conflict till you’re a 27-year-old-coach in love with a student.”; “What’s the big deal,” old Artie interjects, “at least your not getting killed off in a month…”; “Would you all just shut up and wait your turn,” Myles shouts, “—she’ll get around to resolving all you piddley issues if you just give her a little peace and quiet!”
I love Mr. Myles…

Anna C. Morrison said...

This is great! Strong characters like this lead to sequels, you know, and beyond...

Dawn VanderMeer said...

Too funny about getting your characters to find you an agent! Hee! Though if you think about it, they will. And I do believe characters have to feel like real beings for us to write them so they feel real to readers.

Lazy Writer said...

Dominique,
Schizophrenia? Hmm...maybe that explains it. :)

Lily,
So true! If our characters don't even seem real to us, they probably won't come to life for our readers.

Jenn,
I think, based on your post yesterday, our characters are alike in more ways than one. :)

Kim,
Don't worry; I'm not giving up!

Jody,
That blaze is awesome!

Karen,
I think finishing a story is the hardest part.

jb,
Happens all the time! Good thing Mr. Myles has your back!

Anna,
Ah, yes, a sequel...

Dawn,
You are right. Ultimately, it will be my characters who draw an agent in. Good point!

Lori said...

I am amazed when I hear that such things, as the characters taking over, happen to people. It never ever happens to meee! I feel like crying. I am always alone in my head.

Faith said...

Absolutely! Often, I don't know what's going on (beyond a general outline) until my characters take control and run with things. I often feel my writing comes flat and forced when "I" try to write the story as opposed to letting my characters take control. I also find that's the most fun part of writing - when they create the words for me, and all I have to do is write them down!

Jenna Alexander said...

I kind of enter a zone when I am typing so my characters don't speak to me but there are times that I think - where did that come from? It's almost as if I am reading the words for the first time - after - they are on the paper.

I also think through my stories a lot as I am trying to fall asleep. One of my characters will start doing or saying something and I think - Ohhh that's good.

Jenna

Jennifer Shirk said...

LOL! My characters get carried away too. I always have to yank them back. :)

Tabitha Bird said...

Love this post:) Yes, why can't character's get us an agent. If they write the thing, then surely... :)

Kathryn Magendie said...

My mountain cove here is a wonderful muse...but yes, sometimes my characters "speak" to me --

One time, though, I thought sure a "ghost" came to me to ask me to write her story -- not really a ghost, but, well...I'm not really sure what to call this experience! I wrote the novel draft in 30 days --

Heather Sunseri said...

My characters get minds of their own quite often! I have one truly rebellious one right now. He is planning to change my ending.

Danyelle said...

Yep. When it comes to the pecking order of life, I'm squarely at the bottom. The characters make the story, call the shots, decide which story, etc. I'm just there to type it up as none of them have quite mastered computers yet. ;-)

quixotic said...

I agree with Domonique "I once heard writing described as a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia"

LoL. It's great when your characters and you can have a little conversation on how the story should go. I talk to Alyssa all the time. =p

Christopher Goodwine said...
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Christopher Goodwine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christopher Goodwine said...

Congratulations! Characters remote controlling your typing fingers may be one of the best feelings around. That is, as long as it's only when you're typing. It would be very bad news if they were to control your fingers otherwise -- Particularly those cheeky villains.

[Ack, I'm apparently having problems. Maybe it's one of my own characters.]

WhisperingWriter said...

I WISH my characters would speak to me. It would make things easier.

CHARACTERS! Shout to ME! For goodness sakes!

Lazy Writer said...

Lori,
I'm all alone inside my head sometimes, too. Please don't cry!

Faith,
It is so fun when they take over, isn't it?

Jenna,
I couldn't describe it any better myself. It's kind of like reading the book instead of writing it, isn't it?

Jennifer,
I try not to yank them back if they are doing all the work, but sometimes they do get out of hand.

Tabitha,
Yeah, surely...you would think!

Kathryn,
30 days? Wow! That's amazing!

Heather,
That's exactly what happened to me, and I was quite fond of my other ending, but apparently she didn't like it so much! :)

Danyelle,
But if they ever did master the computer, what would that leave us to do????

Quixotic,
I love the conversations with my characters. That's when I learn the most about them.

Christopher,
Very funny! They haven't tried to control anything but the story so far, but I'll be watching them.

Whispering Writer,
Sometimes I want mine to shut up! We could trade for a while if you want.

Glynis said...

It amazes me how my characters are so alive, they control my thoughts. Keep on rolling with them and have fun!

FictionGroupie said...

My characters totally take the reigns all the time. This week when I was rewriting my ending to my first novel, and the characters went in a totally different direction than I was planning. I wrote it and was like, hey, wait, what just happened? How did I end up here?