The power of imagination is an amazing thing to behold. Have you ever listened to a child have a conversation with someone who is not there? Not only does their voice change, but their whole demeanor can change as well…the way the hold their body, the tilt of their little head, the mannerisms they mimic…they become different people. These characters that live in our heads have lives of their own, take action on their own and provide us with dialog of their own. How many of you have had an argument with one of your characters? My guess would be just about all of you. In order for a character to be real to a reader, he or she needs to be real to the writer. Conversation must flow between character and writer like two old friends and when we stop writing for that character, for whatever reason, the character knocks on our minds and asks us what is wrong….why have we stopped writing for them? They become real to us and in our minds, can have their feelings hurt, can feel abandoned.
Sometimes, a character we never intended will walk into our story and take over. Someone we never intended to exist will hijack the story and run away with it. It isn’t planned, it’s not in our outline; what do we do then? Other times, a character will do something we do not expect. Again, it’s not in our plans, it’s not in our outline yet it happened. How can that happen? It is the author who is writing the story, right? Well, not really. We are so good at making up characters that they tend to write their own stories; the stories THEY want to tell. We are just along for the ride, recording their actions and words and putting our names on the cover.
So how do you know when a character is 3 dimensional enough to carry a story? They talk to us, they choose their own actions, they get into trouble on their own and expect us to get them out of it, they dig in their heels and refuse to do something we have written, they put words in our mouths so we can put words in theirs. They have a specific “voice” in our heads, they complain, they cajole, they weep, they argue, they whine, they suggest, they smack us over the head if we stop writing them. They take on a life of their own and become so real to us that we listen to them and write their story.
Guest blogger, Darlene Quinn is an author, speaker, fiction writer, media commentator, and retail expert. The first book in her Webs series, Webs of Power, won the 2009 Indie Excellence Book award – Fiction. Webs of Power, Twisted Webs and the prequel to Webs of Power, Webs of Fate (due out October 1, 2011) are available through Ingram, Baker & Taylor, and directly from Emerald Book Company. She is currently working on the next installment of her Webs series, titled Unpredictable Webs. You can connect with Darlene on Facebook, Twitter, and Linked In and view her blog at http://darlenequinn.wordpress.com/.