Ultimately, you’re going to have a bunch of characters at your disposal (if you’re writing fiction of one kind or another). How you interact with them—in reality, your own imagination—is a unique to you and your style of writing. You may also find that they appear to choose how they interact with you. At least, that is what happened to me.
I was writing my first book, “Blood-soaked and Contagious”, and something strange happened about the same time as I stopped denying that I was writing a book in the first place. Have you heard the term “green room”? For those of you who haven’t, the green room is often a backstage lounge where actors hang out between scenes or to rehearse their lines.
A green room opened up somewhere in my mind, and it spawned the “actors” who played the principal characters in the book. They talked to ME about their motivations, chatted with one another, and argued about how they thought the plot should go.
Without going into freaky detail, as a person who suffers from clinical depression, an experience like this can be cause for worry. Voices in your head, expressing opinions, and arguing…well, I was worried that I’d finally gone all the way around the bend.
An old friend of mine, Misty Massey, was the only published author I knew at the time. I emailed her, asking her if I had finally gone off the deep end. Her reply put me at ease: she’d heard of this sort of thing before with other writers.
What she told me boiled down to this: if your characters are very well drawn, they can feel as though they have a life of their own.
It took a little time to adjust to having a group of opinionated, imaginary, people hanging out in my imagination, but I’ve come to appreciate it. There have been times when I’ve imagined myself, sitting in the green room with them, and asked THEM about plot points or the course of the storyline. In fact, the plot of the third book in the series is being driven by Charlie, the female lead, who bludgeoned me over the head with her opinion.
(Hey, Charlie, here. Don’t listen to him. I didn’t lift a finger… I just wouldn’t let him sleep until he saw things my way. How’s things in Oz, what with the zombies? Cheers, y’all!)
My experience with these characters is unique. None of my other stories, books in progress, etc. have spawned interactions like these. Although, if “Manleigh Cheese” continues, I get the sinking feeling it might go the same way.
So, having told you my story, I wonder how YOU interact with your characters. Do you? Are you the God on Mt. Olympus, directing their lives, or are you down in the trenches with them?
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