When Characters Talk Back

Posted Sonlight Press Uncategorized

Writing is an odd experience in many ways.  God-like in others.

You have an idea.  Just a flash in your mind of something that may be cool.  You spend the next month or two doing your best to take that momentary splash of inspiration and get it onto paper.  During that process, characters that started out as cardboard cutouts become three dimensional.  They have their own ideas, their own wills and lead you down paths you didn’t expect.

chatterboxSuddenly, you find yourself saying “John would never do something like that,” even though your entire momentary flash led to the very moment John was do to that one thing.

As you write, characters talk back and their not subtle about it.

I like that.  I enjoy the story becoming its own living and breathing thing in your mind.  I love it when characters paint me into a corner, because if I’m like “how the hell are they going to get out of that?” then so should the reader.  And if I can come up with an inventive, believable way to come up with an escape, the reader should think it’s inventive and cool too.

This give and take between character and author happens all the time.  In the first Gabby Wells novel, Kneel & Prey, an unexpected pause changed everything  I was in the middle of writing a scene and had to stop before I was ready to.  The last sentence I wrote was a question by a character that changed the entire scope, focus and conclusion of the story.

The character asked a question they would normally ask in the situation and, because I had to stop, it allowed me to take a moment and ask myself, “What if the answer to that question was Yes?”  And Yes became a lot more intriguing than No, which was my original intent.

From that point forward, the story took an completely different path.

If I didn’t take a moment to stop and listen to my character, Kneel & Prey would have ended up being a very different novel.

Characters talk back.  They’re chatting.  They complain.  They demand.  And sometimes, they ask really important questions.  I have to remember and take a moment to make sure the answer I expected is the right one.

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