Musings about characters and writing

Posted: March 29, 2009 in Marquesate, Writing
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army-navy-rafI am sure you have heard authors claiming (including myself) that “this character wrote itself” or “I had intended for character X to do Y but then they had a different idea and they went off all by themselves and forced me to write Z.”

Well, I’ve been thinking about this and when I was asked on another forum what I thought (the latter is taken and adapted from a post of mine on there), it became clear to me that I am well and truly distancing myself from whatever I might have said in the past when I lacked the clarity of insight due to the not-being-botheredness of analysis. Quite frankly, as for “characters writing themselves”, I seriously don’t believe that they do in an esoteric sense of other dimensions, psychobabble and goodness what and I disagree when it is claimed that perhaps they are all real in another dimension. Sure, I’ve said that myself, but let’s face it, that’s just mumbo-jumbo for “they exist in my imagination, your imagination (add more and more readers) our collective imagination.”

I simply think that whatever we write comes out of a plethora of sources-resources, may this be experiences, memories, snippets of images and audio, or goodness knows what, so when we hit a nerve with a character idea, all this stored-away context opens up and the character comes together. Their actions, their voice, their everything, and that’s when it feels that it flows and that they write themselves, while actually, we simply tap into our subconscious. The subconscious has a far greater store of memories, knowledge and wisdom (and k & w aren’t the same, I always get upset when people say learning, for example, is imparting knowledge, nope, it’s facilitating change) than any of our conscious selves. What we think we remember and what we really do remember (and within our context of said memories weave into connections) are the tip of the iceberg and the great rest.

It’s the connections that we make without our conscious awareness that makes it feel as if “characters wrote themselves and had a life and ideas of their own.”

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