“Listen to what I said here,” I said to my husband and then read a sentence from my work-in-progress. After I had finished reading, I said, “Well, I didn’t say it, my character did.”
Don said, “Wait. You wrote it. So doesn’t that mean that’s what you said?”
“No, not really. My characters are not me.”
This answer might seem a little strange. But it’s true.
Now of course every character was created from my experiences, my thought process, my head. But they didn’t have the same childhood or experiences I had. My characters react and say things differently than I would. Otherwise, all my characters would all be the same—they would be me—and that would be very boring …
It’s kind of like an actor who plays a role. The difference is: I make it up as I go. I become every character, instead of every character being me.
And oh my goodness – I can’t believe the mouths on some of these people!
Love and Laughter,
Call me crazy (You’re crazy) but I didn’t realize, until this morning, that I need characters before I can plot out any of my story. I’m working on my romantic comedy series, and I have the first book finished, and I’m 10,000 words into the second one. I’ve been trying to get a vague idea for the story-line (at least the first chapter) for the third book, but my mind refuses to go there. And then it dawned on me, I don’t have my characters yet. (Each story in the series will be concluded and will have different main characters.) And now that I think about it, I realize my process has always been concept, characters, and then story.
The concept seems to be what I think of first. With Jaclyn’s Ghost, which I started writing nine-years-ago, the working title was Old Ghost and my concept was: A ghost, who has existed in a building by himself since the 20s, has to deal with a new modern-day ghost. With The Princes of Tangleforest, I had the fairy tale, Rapunzel and mind-control, but I also had an image: a new boy in a new neighborhood sees a beautiful girl at her window with blonde flowing hair, but he doesn’t see her at school.
My characters usually come to mind second. I’m not a character questionnaire profile type of writer. The thought of it makes me cringe. But I do have a basic understanding of the characters before I begin to write. They have a name, a gender, and a personality but that’s about it. Sometimes I don’t even know what they look like. In Silverweed I never gave Scarlet a hair color. By the time I had finished writing, in my mind, she was dark headed, but I never did add it to the book because after I’d asked several prereaders what color hair they thought she had, they all said a different color. Which I thought was very interesting. Anyway, I learn about my characters as I write them, but I at least need a basic understanding of their role in the story.
My conclusion: I can only write the first chapter after I have a concept and characters, then I can plot along the way. So it looks like I will have to be patient and figure out who my characters are (I may have to even wait until I’m finished with the rough draft of book 2) before I can figure out what is going to happen in my third book. Like I always do … apparently.
Love and Laughter,