Writing: Haunted by the characters

After so long, here’s another writing tip that I have experienced. This one hasn’t been there for all of my characters from the start, so it’s not a compulsory one to begin with. Well, that’s a lie. Every story idea I ever tried to consider writing has haunted me at one time or another. Because I took it as a sign that I was really interested in telling their tales, I was willing to give them a chance. And that’s exactly my point (which fits nicely with the points I made in another post of mine ‘Idea’). If you are not haunted by the characters who keep giving you flashes of what things they go through, if you are not interested in their journey and its end, then why are you even trying to force what their story should be? If you think about it, you’ll realize that the actions that your characters take are not what their personality would make them choose, those actions are what you would choose in their position.

I remember that there was a test of how close you are to your main character. It was so long that I’ve forgotten the website but I do remember that results were quite surprising. Most of my characters were way too similar like me to have their own unique personality. It felt as if I was role playing in these stories as the main characters. Obviously on first sight, this doesn’t sound bad. But if you reread the whole stuff later, you’ll find a gap between the person and the personality. And the odd fact about the test was that the one story I was least willing to start (not because of personality but due to lack of knowledge regarding the setting) was just perfectly crafted as per the text. This realization was what made me think about what exactly were my responsibilities towards the characters and the story.

I realized that most of my work was done the moment I introduced the setting and put my characters in it. What happened from that point onwards was not to be influenced by me (at least not in any prominent way)  and all I had to do was simply report their thoughts and actions. It was kind of like watching a movie with all senses immersed. I can hear what they hear and say, I can smell what they smell, feel what they feel but I was not them. They were separate people with their strengths and weaknesses and we may not even have anything common at all.
But I didn’t dare to judge – or even restrict – them, letting their personalities and thoughts and pasts to settle in my mind so that they can make the choice most suited to their character.

Writing is said to be a solitary thing but if you do it right, you won’t be alone in the head. And if you have the luck in spades, you won’t be alone outside your head either.


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