Sunday, July 27, 2014

When characters speak…we listen!

It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was looking at my calendar and planning for the month of July, making preparations for the 4th of July holiday and making lists for my upcoming summer projects.  My main project for July was to take part in Camp NaNo and to write at least the first 25,000 words for my next short story.  Considering how busy the month has been, I was getting a little worried that I might not actually make my word count but after today, I know that’s not going to be an issue.

Today was a great day for writing.  It’s a day I wish I had every day.  Not only was I able to do extremely well with my word count, it was one of those days when the characters just took over.  I didn’t have to think about the story at all because they had no problem cluing me in to what I had been missing before. 

I love it when that happens.

I’m used to that happening with the Jorja Matthews books; the characters are pretty good about telling me where the story’s going to go, whether I expected it to go there or not, or what it is they want to do, whether I want them to do it or not.

The short story I’ve been working on for Camp NaNo was a different matter.  My main character is different than Jorja and most of my other characters.  Her voice isn’t as loud to me.  She hasn’t been that strong and her story seemed pretty much black and white.

Until today.

Today I was able to watch as my character blossomed and certain points in the story began to change. While I thought I knew what the fate of this character was to be, I’ve seen the layout of a different plan for her.  At the same time, two other characters helped me out by finally sharing information that will shed more light as that plan begins to unfold.  I always thought I knew the ending to this story.  Today, I was given a glimpse of another, very surprising, ending and I’m excited the characters have finally come out to play.
And that’s what makes writing so fun!

Unless you’ve dabbled in writing at all, you probably have no idea what I’m talking about and you might think it sounds just a little insane. That’s okay; writers get away with being a tad eccentric.  A tad…that’s all I’ll ever confess to.

But other writers get it.  I read a blog post today on The Write Practice that struck home for me when the author offered this little gem that I’ll quote here:

“The story isn’t mine.  I’m just the conduit.”

I’ve read other posts and articles by writers who also write the same way I do…no outline or maybe just a rough outline…then the story begins and the characters eventually take over and fill in the blanks to lead us down the path they choose so that we can tell their story for them.

When it works like that, it means the characters have come out to play, and when the characters speak, we have no choice but to listen or the story will not unfold as it was meant to be.

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