Sunday, June 5, 2011

'Good' characters from the writer's pov.

How I envy the writers whose characters are always talking to them, filling their heads with words, giving them wonderful stories they must write because the author's life depends on it. Almost in one sitting these writers type till their fingers are about to drop off. I'd love to be on such a roll. Not sleeping or eating until these 'good' characters cleverly resolve their conflicts and I fall exhausted from my chair.

That doesn't happen to me. My characters are not cooperative. They tend to sleep a lot and require a wack from a big stick to wake them and get them motivated. If I have a cold, my characters cough and sneeze a lot. If I'm angry or irritated, my characters have a physical fight and injuries occur, and if I'm stuck in research mode my characters fidget or wander in a dark cave. On wintery days they struggle uphill through the snow or drown in an icy lake, but when the sun shines outside, they give cheek to the authorities and sing and dance in a forest.

Why can't they get a life of their own? That would make it so much easier for me to plot a realistic story.

At this very moment I'm procrastinating about opening my wip file (chapter 5 from the heroine's pov) but I know the heroine will simply sigh and be her usual bland self- centred self, worrying about how people perceive her. Whereas my villain, she will be running down the beach with her dog, doing exactly what I am feeling guilty for not doing.

 . . . where's my dog?


  1. Be careful what you wish for!!
    Sounds like a great idea, a run on the beach. I took Mum to sit and watch the waves yesterday. Spent a few hours just soaking in the positive ions, gathering inspiration.
    Should have taken the dogs...
    Was a good day but it wasn't writing.

  2. You'll be able to draw on those positive ions and that good day when you do settle into writing. I'm still sitting here. Will probably take the dog tomorrow. That's only a day away.:)

  3. Yeah, the characters are a bugger. when they want to work they work well. When they want to bludge, well, good luck chappie! fortunately I almost always have new characters trying to get my attention, pushing in at improper and inopportune moments, so i'm never really alone. (yes, the men in the rubber truck with the big nets are not far behind).
    so kick the buggers collective arses and whip them into shape. they're your characters, so be the boss. extending the beach analogy, threaten to drown the lot and get some new ones. that usually wakes them up.
    have fun.

  4. So Barry, you are saying we should put on the mantle of omnicience, give ourselves permission to create and destroy whenever and whatever we please because a higher power has cursed us with the ever present urge to write. Make sense to me.:)

  5. absolutely. the idea springs from - of all places - a spiderman comic where he sits on top of the empire state building, looking at life pass him by. he's thinking about the average joe he used to be, and what he is now, and the power he has and what his uncle ben said about using that power rather than squandering it. we as writers have that same awesome power and we must use it, or we rick losing it to other, less well trained or talented people.

    so make those characters work for their page space. it is your responsibility, your duty to do so, for them as much as you.

    in a "sliders/alternate reality" sortt of realm, the stories you tell in this reality are life in another reality.

    And now i've got me started ...

  6. I so much agree with you about characters who write their own stories. I had mapped out a story that required the heroine to jump into bed with some - anyone - early in the piece. Unfortunately, she refused. There was nothing I could do or say that would change her mind.

    That lady wrote her own story, it flew off the keyboard and turned into my best novel (readers seemed to agree). So much easier when the characters do that.

    (I did get her into to bed eventually. On the last page, as she 'rode into the sunset'.