Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead. -- Gene Fowler

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Who's In Charge Here? On Demanding Characters

On Thursday I had the awesome but very odd experience of being yanked to my writing place ... by one of my characters. I've been manipulated by characters before; I've long since learned that, in a similar way to the fact you can't steer a train, I can't force my characters to do something they don't want to do. This was a bit more than I'd bargained for.

The character in question is called Katherine. She's a red-headed Irish Australian living in America, and her son has been taken by the (very corrupt) government and has been held by INS for the past eighteen months. Her husband, normally a quiet sort who bows to her force of personality, has recently stepped up and broken their son out of custody. A peace-loving organisation is keeping the whole family in a safehouse in a nearby city, and the circumstance of living together under one roof again is putting a strain on everyone.

Katherine was painted in a poor light in a previous piece I did, and so when the Muse declared Writing Season open, she descended like a Valkyrie from, er, heaven, I suppose, and demanded to be written.

I sometimes get the sense when I write a character I'm intimately familiar with that I 'step into' them to experience their personas. In this case, I distinctly felt Katherine step into me as I sat at the desk. Very odd, yet very awesome.

So in addition to the thousand or so words I wrote in the morning, I also put down another three thousand or so in the afternoon. Yikes. I am writer, hear me ...er, write!

Print it in Moleskine MSK format

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