Thursday, May 15, 2014

When Characters Come to Life

I was talking to a fellow writer about character development, and she said the funniest thing: "Sometimes I almost feel embarrassed to be a voyeur in my character's lives." Many writers talk about how their characters take on lives of their own. I always chuckle and think we're a bunch of crazy people with imaginary friends. It's true. My characters imbue their lives in my mind with all the facets of who they are. As I tell a story it unfurls much like life. In this case, I typically have an end in mind while most of us don't know our "ever after". It's like sitting as fortune teller and seeing the future in the crystal ball of my computer. You know where the story is going but what happens in-between is a bit of an enigma until you actually get to that point in the story.

Writers write stories in different ways. A friend of mine uses note cards and says his desk looks like a serial killer's shrine. I write stories straight from my mind's eye. I can literally sit down and just have the concept in my head, and the rest of the story spills out of my mind onto the page. The gift is to keep it all orderly, paced, and working efficiently to move the story forward. My technique boggles some writers' minds. And it's definitely not something you can teach. Talent isn't a tangible tool to be passed on to someone else. Talent can be honed. Talent can be nurtured, but talent cannot be taught.

If you want to come and commiserate with fellow writers, join my writers' group Writers Who Mean Business. We meet the last Thursday of the month. See you at the next meeting and you can tell me about your imaginary friends.

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