Thursday, November 16, 2006


Happy Thursday, everyone.

Thursday has always been my favorite day of the week. Long ago it was because Thursday was Friends night on TV, but now I think it's the anticipation of the weekend. When Friday comes, the demise of the weekend has already begun, but Thursday means that the freedom represented in those two days off from work and school hovers right there on the horizon, waiting but not yet used or misused in any way. Just like Thanksgiving Day, the anticipation is often more exciting than the actual event.

Hey, that's not what I wanted to talk about today! You see how our words just run away with us writers sometimes?

And that leads me to what I do want to address. Authors are always talking about how their characters having minds of their own and refuse to obey their creators -- that sometimes they just spring alive with some unexpected twist or turn that the writer had no idea was coming.

Okay, a little confession here. I thought people who said those things were a little nuts. I mean, you're the writer. You control what characters do and say, right? Then I began creating these danged stubborn characters that simply wouldn't behave the way I'd planned! And I understood.

The whole idea of characters operating independently of their creators hit home to me one day when I was tending my six-year-old granddaughter Elisa. Ellie saw me typing my manuscript and probed about what I was doing. I knew she wanted to try her hand at "writing," so I offerred to type while she "wrote" her story. After eleven pages of manuscript, I told her she had to find a stopping place where we could pick up next time. Intuitively, she chose a humdinger of a cliffhanger.

As she climbed the stairs on her way to bed that night, she exclaimed, "I'm so excited, Grammy Jo. I can't wait to find out how my story ends!"

"But you're writing the story. Don't you know how it ends?"

"Of course not," she replied. "That's the fun part!"

Out of the mouths of babes.

And I guess the movie industry had the same idea. Anyone seen the previews for Will Ferrell's new movie, Stranger Than Fiction?

What do you think? What pesky birdwalks do your characters lead you on? What serrendipitous walks around the barn yard have your characters taken?

5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

hmmmm.... well, since I am NOT a writer I just don't really get it. But that is okay... I don't get a lot of things. I will ask MY 7 year old. She'll know. Speaking of my 7 year old (yes, I know 7 year olds are not the actual subject of this blog but YOU brought them up and I need very little excuse to brag about my kids) This is how dramatic she is. The other day she said, "This best day of my life!" I had made garlic bread with dinner. Not too long after that she said, "It feels like the end of the world!" Because Noggin cancelled her favorite show. Go figure :)

7:06 PM  
Blogger AArmae said...

Well, since I started out writing angels and then went on to write vampires who eventually turned out to be vampire angels, I'd say my characters take me on some very interesting walks :-) I just never know what they'll come up with next. I do get a basic idea for my books now, as opposed to when I first started writing. But no matter how much I plan and plot, my characters remain unpredictable buggers :-)

Angelique Armae

10:48 PM  
Blogger Playground Monitor said...

I've had pesky characters who've taken over a story and usually they know best! Darn them. They always rub it in, too.

Marilyn from blog class

9:39 PM  
Blogger Susan Macatee said...

I find the same thing with my characters. I've rewritten the ending of my book several times. Now, I'm hoping my characters will go along with the ending I have in mind. I'm getting tired of this story and want to move on to the next.

Great blog!

5:36 PM  
Blogger Patricia said...

I always blamed character problems to being a pantser not an outliner but I know that's wrong. Even my vague outlines do not contain my characters. I once got through a chapter before they revolted. They like to throw out unexpected conflicts to show me who they really are, which is never how I originally perceived them to be.

Loved your post.

Patricia

9:11 AM  

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