Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Are Your Characters People?

I apologize for not posting yesterday.  I didn't forget, but I had a US history final at night that I spent all day studying for, and then the minute I got back, I cracked down on psychology, which I just finished taking.  So here is my belated response.  Read Jenita's too, the creator of this week's question.

I spend a lot of time with my characters.  Especially during ATRS, I thought about Meg and Theseus all the time, while I was eating, while I zoned out in class, before I went to bed, when I showered, you name it.  I was constantly trying to figure them out.  I honestly probably spent more time with them than with real people, which is kind of scary.  But your characters are apart of you; they're always with you, so naturally, you would spend loads of time with them.

Sadly, I am not one of those authors who "takes my characters out to lunch" and proceeds to engage in lively imaginary conversation.  No.  Sorry.  That's a bit weird/schizophrenic to me (to me; of course if this is one of your methods, then I am highly envious because it sounds fun).  I like to imagine how my characters would respond to different situations.  They talk to me on a daily basis.  I just don't talk back.  

How my characters emerge depends on the novel.  For ATRS, the thing was pretty much plot-driven, so my characters were people who carried out the plot.  Their own quirks weren't evident in the beginning.  "Steam" was birthed quite differently.  It came a dream, and it was the characters that struck me first and hit me full-force with the intensity of their desires and hopes. In fact, they were so complex and well-formed from the get-go, that for the first time, I had to make a character chart to keep track of their motivations.  As a result, I am much more attached to the characters from "Steam."  I'd like to hang out with the gang one day, if I can get past the strangeness of it all.

Jenita says the trouble for her is confining a complicated person within the pages of a book.  I think it's hard for me to pull a character off a page.  I really do try to walk around every day and think about how my characters would react to my world in an effort to make them come alive. I want my characters to be believable as real people.  So in that sense, yes, my characters are people.  I am sad when horrible things happen to them (even though it's my fault), and I cheer on their successes.  I want them to all have that impossibly wonderful happy ending, and I sympathize when I can't give it to them.  

It's nice, in a way, to be a writer because even when you're alone, you're never lonely.  Your characters are always there, to bicker, to whine, to create all sorts of mayhem.  It's rather fun to watch them resolve it.

And now, I'm going to put on pajamas and wipe out for a couple of hours.  The headache is making me incapable of daily function.  This is the one time when my characters need to shut up and let me sleep.


  1. Nice post. I envy you, because I have not yet learned how to "live" with my characters yet. I'm trying though. Good luck on your exams too.

  2. Yes they are. ;-)

    I've never taken one to lunch, but my characters have a twitter account. It's been very useful summing up an entire chapter in 150 characters from one of my character's POV.

    My characters tend to be the ones driving the plot and as a result, have become very bossy. :D

  3. I loved this post : ) Sometimes I feel like the only person who feels like her characters are "real" (in that they bicker, whine, et cetera), so I was reassured : ) Yay!

    Hope your final went well : )