does not describe me fully
it is where to start

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Are Those Characters Real?

What is it that happens when characters become like real people to a writer? Is it a worrisome sign of psychological disorder?

I don’t know. All I know is that I generally don’t feel that I’m writing effectively until a character starts “talking” to me. I’ll be about to fall asleep, and I’ll “hear” a voice that says, “You forgot to mention how I felt when Agnes died.” “Or Juana eloped.” Or some other character detail which had never occurred to me but which turns out to be critical for understanding my character’s emotional and psychological makeup; if not, his timeline.

Now I could go all spooky on you and talk about how my grandmother was a medium and maybe all I’m doing is channeling dead spirits. Okay, guffaw, all you want. The point is that this is a mysterious process. We are all readers, as well as writers. As readers, some of us develop strong bonds with fictional characters which defy rational explanation. I wonder if that could happen if the author herself had not developed a lifelike bond with her character.

Do any of my fellow writers have this experience?


Sun Singer said...

They're real in their own way, I think. Mine don't converse with me. Instead, I see the prospective scenes playing out inside my head.


P.S. The fact that many writers mention such things proves we're all sane or we're all crazy.

Karen said...

More often than not, fictional characters take root from real people, or are an amalgamation of many real people.

The writer has to be in tune with the characters, and in order for that to happen, they have to be real in the mind of the writer.

How can one write an enthralling story, that brings the reader in, without first having bonds to the characters?

T.Allen said...

That's a very interesting question, and sadly as a non-fiction writer one I cannot definitively answer. If I were to venture a guess, I'd say they are real, machinations of the subconscious mind, or driven by some other-worldly's all plausible to me. Great question, by the way.

Judith Mercado said...

Malcolm, sane or crazy? That covers a lot of sins.

Karen, yes! And that bond for me is a strong one.

T. Allen, fiction writer or not, your explanation is as good as any other.