Delusional or not?

from the Oxford Dictionary

Karalee’s Post #3 – I try not to giggle whenever I think about someone eavesdropping in on one of our group’s critique sessions. Without a doubt the listener would think we were delusional. We talk about our characters as though they are thinking, emotional human beings (or aliens) with strong motivations and flaws that make them do what they do in the heat of conflict.

And in our minds our characters are doing all of that and more. Are we delusional? Should the eavesdropper commit us to the local psych ward?

Oh, and we drink coffee and eat sandwiches as we muse about our protagonists finding dead bodies or shooting the bad guys. And we get excited brainstorming about how our villains can commit the murder, steal the treasure, break up families or business relationships, or bring down the world.

Then there’s our protagonist’s sidekick: an opposite either to help or hinder, but always there on the quest wherever it takes them. Of course a bit of romance never hurt a plot whether it’s the protagonist’s love interest or a murder/kidnapping committed because love was thwarted or betrayed.

We all have different plots and characters and it amuses me how we talk as though all our fictional people have real feelings and bleed real blood. But all told, our characters have a common denominator (in keeping with Silk’s arithmetic usage) and that is, they all MUST ring true and unique.

So how do I create my characters?

First I have an idea of where my plotline is going from start to finish. I tend to write the first scene and last scene early on in my writing so I have a place ‘to go to’ in my story. The idea is solid, but I’m not committed to these scenes word-for-word as I know changes will come as my characters tell it like it really is. They take control worse than my mother and keep me up too late and wake me up early as they run with their story. To tell the truth, I’m neither a late-night-person or a break-of-dawn riser, so what my characters have to say MUST be compelling to change my normal rhythm.

Next  I start outlining and I wonder what kind of characters would do what needs to be done. That leads to deciding on their ethnic backgrounds and ages, and I start building them from their parents and childhoods up to the present including their experiences that make them who they are and react the way they do. Relatives and friends that have influenced them can explode into pages of details and I could spend weeks on creating their lives, so I do a skeleton of these connections (actually more like bones with some flesh) and add more details as I write the story and learn more about them.

Like I’ve said before, my characters talk to me. My job is to listen and write and be the CEO of my project. It’s the best job don’t you think?

So, if you happen to be eavesdropping at one of our critique sessions or come into my office while I’m having a heated conversation with myself or making faces in a mirror to show the emotions I’m trying to write down, don’t dial 911.

None of us are delusional.

We’re writers.

5 thoughts on “Delusional or not?

  1. The last two lines obviate all that precedes them, unless you’re in court, defending yourself against involuntary commitment. Who else but writers would read these posts? We all do the same things, in one form or another. No one would imagine any of you as delusional.

    I took comfort in knowing that your characters come out of the plot, that you find the kind of people who will do what needs to be done. I do the same thing, but then, like you said, they come into their own. I started a short story with a first person narrator, a male in his late teens. He didn’t think too much of me or my ideas, so he went out on his own, and turned my short story into an epic novel. But the ungrateful punk wasn’t all that happy in the end, so I had the last laugh, and I’m still glad I have daughters.

    • Haha Jeff! Thanks for your comment. But everyone that reads our post are not writers. A few of my dragon boater friends and running friends are reading but aren’t privy to our process. And if any of them observed us they may think we were crazy. Of course, us insiders think it’s merely all in a day’s work.

    • Thanks Joanne. I’ve enjoyed picturing you out with the chimpanzees too! Looking forward to hearing about the medical conditions you are helping out with. Your time and generosity inspires me.

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