Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Those People In Your Head

Recently I finished my current full-length manuscript. I didn't expected to start work on my next one until January. My brain was supposed to turn to mush as soon as I typed The End and remain that way for at least a month.
To my surprise, new characters started whispering right away. Flashes of scenes appeared in my mind's eye. Ideas for conflict pushed their way to the surface. What is the deal here? This is supposed to be my vacation.
Well, tell that to the cast and crew. They were tired of waiting and ready to get started. And to be honest, I'm glad. It means I've learned to listen to my characters, to actually hear them.
Two years ago, hearing others talk about this phenomenon baffled me. I'd always thought myself in charge of the story. Though I'd daydreamed for as long as I could recall, my characters didn't do anything on their own. Or so I thought. I'm a plotter. I'm in control. That wouldn't change.
And it hasn't. I'm still a plotter, devising evil ways to torture my hero and heroine. I map out scenes on a chart and see where the holes are. But when I put pen to paper, I close my eyes and wait. Then I can watch what my characters are doing, hear what they're saying, try to feel what they are feeling.
I'm finally connecting with all those people in my head. That's a cool thing!


Maven Beverly Barton said...

Angel, welcome to my world. Ever since I was a child, I’ve had all these stories, all these characters inside my head, sometimes dozens vying for attention at the same time. There have been times when I’ve wished my brain had an on/off switch so that I could turn off that continuous “movie” playing in my mind. But for a writer, this is truly a godsend, even if it occasionally causes a sleepless night or results in missing the correct turnoff on the interstate. --BB

Problem Child said...

Angel, can you send some of those people to my house and let them tell me what the H**L to do with my plot?!?!?!

Sigh--even my characters are problem children.


Maven Linda Winstead Jones said...

Don't you just love it when that happens?

I'm not a plotter -- I write by the seat of my pants, so if the characters don't talk to me I'm in big trouble.


Playground Monitor said...

My "people" speak in incomplete plots and often speak at 2:00 AM when I'm trying to go to sleep. I've learned to keep pen and paper in the nightstand and the dh doesn't ask anymore when I sit up, grab the paper and scribble.

Smarty Pants said...

It's great when the voices start speaking to you, but it can go horribly arwy, especially for a plotter, when the characters stop listening to you. No - you aren't supposed to kiss until chapter 4 - yet there they are. I've had books take turns (for the better, I'd add) when my characters started doing what they wanted and not what I've wanted. It can be exasperating, though.

Instigator said...

As a pantster I only ever have the voices to go by (and yep, it can be a problem when they stop talking). Mine seem to like water - give me a big bathtub full of water and the words just flow from my fingers. It's a good thing I have Alphie (and I'm really lucky I haven't dropped him into the drink!)


Anne Marie Winston said...

Only other writers understand how real these people clamoring for attention in our heads are to us. Mine often babble faster than I can write, when the creative juice is flowing. Must be like alcohol to them--loosens their inhibitions!

P.S. Hi! Marilyn invited me to drop in and check out the class. What a wonderful place to go to school!