Saturday, May 3, 2008

Character Insanity

Writing a book is the same as have twenty extra people in your head all yelling for you to let them out at one time. I have been working on multiple works in progress all at the same time. From that you can probably figure out that I'm verging on the edge of insanity. Each story takes place in a self contained world with specific rules and laws.

I sometimes wonder what would happen if I just let all the characters run amok, meeting each other at random in a similar fashion to those cross-over television shows. For instance, how would Merlyn handle the Hieney twins? Or exactly what kind of meeting of the minds would there be between Eppie and Daffodil. I'm sure that Aristotle, the drang from Mystic Valley would have a lot to share with Percy and Bart from Avalon...

I mailed a print copy of my book to one of the women mentioned in the dedication. She called to let me know that she received it. Then she asked, "How do you think of all these ideas?" I confess that I didn't have an answer for her. It's not a conscious thought process. It's more a stream of consciousness process. I spend a lot of time doing "what if?" and then following my characters as they merrily dance off the beaten path into forbidden territory.

I admire authors who can wrangle their characters into a semblance of organized behavior. Mine never seem to listen to any of my objections at all. While I'm pointing them off toward a nicely worked out conclusion, they're busy adding complications that I'm not prepared for. When I politely point out that I'm in charge, they throw temper tantrums and refuse to follow the story board.

Now that I'm nearing the end of a book that's taken a much longer time to write than my normal schedule, the characters are acting up. Naturally. They've decided to change the story at the last minute. The villain refuses to be villainous, instead protesting that he's simply confused. Why can't they just do as they're told? And what is he doing wandering all over the valley instead of staying put?

I suppose that I shouldn't complain. The characters in another work in progress have totally disappeared and refuse to come out of hiding no matter what I try to coax them out... bribes, Tim-Tams, chocolate... they just ignore me and leave me in the lurch. That's another series. Perhaps I'll have to skip that story for now and move on to the next. Maybe they're just not ready to talk.

In the meantime, I also am dealing with three characters that I never had any plans for. They won't go away. And I have no place to put them. It's not exactly like every publisher on the planet is rushing to publish a story about a dragon, a tiger, and an alien. I don't have a story. I don't have a title. I don't have a plan. Every time I try to shove them back in the closet, they stubbornly refuse to leave. What to do?

If you see a strange woman with characters sprouting from her head like out of control corkscrews, don't panic. It's just me being my normal self. Blessings on your day.


Trot over to Amarinda's, Kelly's, and OhGetAGrip. Amarinda always had great stuff. Kelly has the Sunday Quote. and OGAG has a cartoon. What more could you want?


  1. Knowing your books, I expect the tiger et al will all end up hot, sweaty and pierced in due course

  2. LOL! I know what you mean! As I was nearing the end of one of my books, all I had to do was steer them in the direction of finally admitting their feelings for each other. But all of a sudden, the heroine decided to question him about a mutual friend! What should have only taken a chapter or two ended up being four. But it finally happened, and I was pleased with the ending:)

  3. Oh I'm so glad I'm not the only one with characters buzzing around my head like bees. It's difficult not to laugh at the looks I receive when someone sees me try to swat one back inside my head.

    Perhaps you should ask the three to tell you their story and see where they take you.

  4. She can't Barb!! She must finish Bishop first. *whine*

    Got the same thing going on between Marie, Simon and a host of other stories that need to be written but out of the blue, one that won't be put down. They take over and all you can do is hang on for the ride.

    I liken it to one of those individual ski lifts, the kind with a disk you sit on which is hooked to a low cable. It doesn't stop for you and if you hook it wrong you end up being dragged through the snow. If you hook it right, you sit in and coast easily up that slope. Quite fighting to reach the other ski lift that's stalled and take the one you're one or you'll end up with a face full.