Tuesday, November 25, 2008

No One Writes Alone...

I’ve spoken a little about this subject before, but I’m saying it again. For the experience never gets old. I’m talking about the collaborative process of author and character. It happened again last night.

Characters are often said to “come alive” on the page. For an author, that can be even more true than it is for the reader. The reader only receives the end result of the story, the final form. But the writer’s locked down version of the events were not finalized at all during the process of creation. Rather they unfolded and shifted along the way.

Whatever amount of “living” quality characters possess is magnified in scribbling down the words. For the characters relate what transpired in their lives. Some, such as Bart’s sister Lage, brush me off as insane. I’ll be the first to admit to a degree of insanity, or a least severe silliness. (See last post.)

Last night on the train I revised the latest portion of the current novel. I moved on to composing. For I knew what came next. (Chances are I do, right?) But later, when I typed in the new material, I found myself writing unplanned additional information. The character interjected, giving me an even better understanding of how to structure the scene. Suddenly I had a more dynamic version of what happened in his psyche at that moment. I raced to include his thoughts on the subject. Then he surprised me, for I did not expect him to react as well as he did to the discovery in the scene.

It often works the other way, too. By which I mean I’m “told” that what I have written is not correct in the least. If I’m lucky, the character will go on to clue me in as to what really happened right away. Sometimes I’m at their mercy.

For those of you who wonder if I actually hear their voices, the answer is still no. I’m not entirely crazy. I do know the “extra material” arises from me in some capacity. But any author will attest that the information really does feel as if it comes from outside oneself. It seems to stem from other entities - those who have lived through the very story being told. So it only makes sense to “listen” to them. A writer becomes merely the conduit.

Maybe I really do have access to other realms. More likely I have an overactive imagination. Either way, some would call me “nuts.” And I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love to collaborate…um, write.

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