Characters: A life of their own

So, we’ve established, that if I have to, I choose character over plot. This makes my writing process interesting for two reasons. First, I am continually worried that what I write doesn’t move fast enough, and is not exciting to the this generation, which was raised on thirty-second TV and movie scenes. You’ll have to read my writing yourself to judge if it is fast enough or not (see how I worked that shameless plug in there?), but it is something that I am never quite settled about.

The other thing that is interesting, is that because I give them some room to grow, my characters do and say things that surprise me. In fact, they change the story a little bit as it goes along. Don’t get me wrong, they don’t change the entire plot, and never the final ending, but they do put twists and turns and things into it that I didn’t expect. It’s kind of fun. In fact, sometimes the thing that keeps me writing is the desire to see what my characters will do.

Now, if you aren’t a writer, you might be inclined to find out where I live, and call a psychiatrist here and have me evaluated. But I’ve talked to other book-length authors, and they report similar experiences. Either we all take the same mind-altering drugs, or maybe there is something to this idea that fictional characters can take on a sort of life of their own, even to the surprise of the author. Since I don’t take any drugs at all besides aspirin, it must be the second thing.

So have you experienced this in your writing? Or do you think I’m nuts?


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