Yeah, My Characters Talk To Me…

I always think it’s sad when someone says their characters don’t talk to them. Or worse, that it took them three years to pull a character’s motive out of them. I’m thankful to have a good relationship with my characters. Even the antagonists. We all chat and bond, and sometimes I kill them, but it’s okay. We love each other. <3 ^^

Sometimes on the writing boards I see a conversation that goes something like this:

Sparklepants91: My character wants to be an aerobics instructor, but I was going to make them a botanist. I need them to have plant knowledge. insert too much information here HELP!

Knowitall49: You mean, YOU really want them to be an aerobics instructor and you can’t make up your mind.

Sparklepants91: No…THEY want to be an aerobics instructor.

Everyone is different. If Knowitall49 doesn’t engage in chit-chat with their characters, that’s fine. But Sparklepants91 isn’t crazy. At least not more crazy than the rest of us. My dad, like Knowitall49, can’t wrap his mind around the notion that to some writers, our characters are living, breathing people in our heads. I tried to explain it like this:

“I’m Dr. Frankenstein and the characters are my monsters. Once I create them (though sometimes they come and find me), they take on a life on their own.”

My example didn’t help. I can’t imagine why.

I LOVE it when my characters tell me what to do when I’m writing. But I also want them to be where I need them to be so I can write the story. This is why I’m with Sparklepants91. Sometimes your characters are lolly gaggling in back story land when you need to be in the here and now taking botany classes on the weekends AFTER their aerobics class (I can compromise). And one of the ways you find this information out is by talking to the little beasts.

I was going to go into NaNoWriMo with a horror story starring a snotty & troubled 16 year old girl. I was wildly excited because it would be a new kind of MC for me, one I’ve always wanted to write about, but been too chicken to try. When I interviewed her, however, she was (brace yourselves)…super happy. Like, I can’t do anything with that! When I got the idea, there was all this crazy drama, and I was so looking forward to that (along with all the other new writing elements & experiments I was going to bust out with).

I was afraid this story was falling apart, as so many stories do, but as I was driving home from work on Tuesday, I realized…those characters are still living out the back story. The story ISN’T ready. Then it was my turn to be super happy, because I really want to go into mad scientist mode and experiment! write this story. I have a quite a few stories in the pipeline that aren’t ready yet. It happens. It’s definitely okay if it needs more time. I’ll catch up to them when they’re ready for the story to start.

This is why it is always beneficial for me to be cooking multiple stories in the old writer’s crockpot in my brain. If I was a more patient person, I would just read and watch TV until the story was ready. But I’m not, so crockpot it is.

In the meantime, I needed a NaNo project, so I addressed the little stack of partially planned ideas and asked for volunteers. And what steps up? Another horror idea — also starring a character type I’ve been DYING to try (experiments!!) This time a mentally disturbed 21 year old female. This story has been bugging for me weeks, and it knew I would take anything because NaNo is right around the corner, and I need time to plan & skillet fry this thing.

Story says: “Remember me? That story you were planning back in July? You did research on me? Yeah, I was ready like 3 months ago.”
Me: I love you!
Story: Get to work.

Now I get to procrastinate by drafting up another pointless mock cover for my NaNo project. Lol!

Anyway, to the Knowitall49’s of the world, your thoughts are valid. Though I will maintain that it’s far more beneficial to make like me & Sparklepants 91 and engage in idle chit-chat with your characters, as opposed to letting them run around willy nilly all silent and crap. Knowitall49 should try it. It’s super fun. ^^

And to the people who have to wait 3 years to get their characters to talk, run them down with four-wheeler and THREATEN them with a hot poker!! ahem I mean, ask them politely to cough up a motive or you’ll make one up for them and make sure they’re wearing soiled Sponge Bob undies when they die. (One of my characters seriously screamed in horror just now. Lol!)

Really though, I love Spongebob…from a distance. And silent.
Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS!

14 Responses to Yeah, My Characters Talk To Me…

  1. I love the mental crockpot – let those idea stew away :)It was interesting to read this post because just yesterday my CP told me she's started a story about an author whose characters chase him around and talk to him all the time. I told her she was just writing real life πŸ˜‰

  2. Oh, definitely my characters talking to me. In one of my early works, I suddenly started hearing my MC's mother having a conversation with someone who had a Spanish accent. There were no Spanish speakers in the novel. But Ernesto insisted on joining the gang, and I had to take a year of Spanish to accommodate him. In my current work, the MC's son–normally a very even-tempered, conscientious boy–decided to have a tantrum one day. It proved to be exactly what was needed at that point.

  3. I wish I could get my current characters to talk to me. The most I get is for the classless, attention hoarding characters who want me to write a different story so they can shine. ugh…

  4. He decided to have a tantrum? Lol! They know exactly what we need sometimes, don't they? That's awesome you took Spanish for a character! You're good to them. I had to do a tiny bit of research, about two hours worth, on this story and that set it back 4 months. *shakes head*

  5. Ugh, I know what you mean. I tell them I'll think about, and sometimes I do. They didn't always talk to me so much but I started interviewing characters a few years ago, and that started this slow flood of chattering from people.

  6. Oooooh, must be a cacophony of character voices simmering on the back burner of your mind… LOLThe thought of writing 50 000 words in 30 days terrifies me… you NaNoWriMo'ers are seriously brave! I write too slow…

  7. i think the trick to hearing your characters- and possibly the reason why many people don't- is because if you have to spend A LOT of time with them in order to hear them. Like with my short stories, the chracters have only the voice I give them in 1000 words. I.E. not much of a voice. And for 1000 words, that's usually fine. it's about the plot, what's going on right now. Back story, quirks and the like take a back seat.But during NaNo when I dive head-first into research, spend hours writing back story and fleshing out the setting and making up random factoids which may never even get a place in the story but I feel compelled to write down- that's when I start to hear them and that's when it gets fun!I've had what I thought were minor characters steal the football I was passing, score a touchdown and tehn insert themselves into the plot as essential elements for the win. I've had other characters whom I had big plans for say "Nah, I'm busy being antisocial, write me out of this scene" And I've had still other characters which never even occured to me pop up all fleshed out and loud, demanding that I sit down and listen to them. It only happens when I give myself the time to live in the world of my novel for a while and put reality on the back burner.And in just a couple of weeks… things are gonna get crazy!Will you be my writing buddy, BTW? My NaNo name is Bevimus

  8. Added you! ^_^ It is so true that you need to spend time with them. Sometimes characters won't talk no matter what, but so many of mine do that I'm not willing to work with people who don't talk to me anymore and they know that. Lol! I just love it when characters try to steal the spotlight. It doesn't always work, but it is fun when they try. ^_^I can't wait for NaNo! Good luck to us! πŸ™‚

Hi! ^_^