Sunday, March 26, 2017

Characters: Are They Real?

I’ve been asked, “Do your characters become real to you when you’re writing?”


When I’m writing a story my characters develop a life of their own. Their voices are inside my head, wanting to say, this, or that. Even when I’ve walked away from my computer they keep talking to me. 

When I talked to my husband about my books I forget that I’m not talking about real people.
For example, in my first book, Immortal Love, my husband would come home, and I said, “Guess what happened today?”

“What?” he asked.

“Dominick saw Eleanor’s mother’s ghost when a log fell on Eleanor in the rain,” I said in rapid fire.  And a few days later, “Eleanor finally said, I love you to Dominick after he came out of that burning building.”

“Really,” he said, and then gave me that look.  You know what look I’m talking about, the, Do I need to call the doctor about this?

In my second book, Powers of the Heart, I told my husband, “Kiera healed Ian’s leg after he got kicked by a horse.

“Who’s Ian?”

He’s Erik’s brother-in-law,” I said, like he should already know this.

He nodded his head patiently. 

A week later I said, “Kiera just healed Erik’s aunt after she got stabbed in the stables. Now everyone knows she’s a healer.”

He calmly replied, “Did you take your meds today?”

In Destiny’s Promise, I finished a chapter and turned to him, “Randolf created a lightning storm in Disa’s room after he found out she was making Carina sick.”

Being a fan of the fantasy genre his interested was peaked. He no longer treated me like a crazy lady. He would come home and ask, “What are Randolf and Carina up to today?” and “What evil conjuring is Disa up to?” 

When it came to editing he became as invested as I was in my characters and helped me develop them even more.

At the start of each novel I would write a profile of each character, and not only their appearance and moral code but I would also ask, “What are his, or her goals? What is their motivation? How does it fit into the plot?” This works whether I’m plotting, or pantzing

When I use these character profiles while plotting they can sometimes derail my story and send me in another direction, some have worked, and some I have to reign in to get to where I planned to go. 
While I’m in pantzer mode, my characters take me on a journey, developing the plot as I go along.

For me, it’s important to be as invested in the characters as much as the plot. They helped my story move forward. As my characters evolve, my plot became deeper, and richer and they took me where I hadn’t planned.

At the end of each book I come back to reality, happy that my characters have reached their goals and moved on. Like my children, I watched them grow and setting them free.

OK, yes I’m a little bit crazy, but don’t authors have to be from time to time?

Now I have to ask, do your characters talk to you?

My first book, Immortal Love, just came out in audio. With summer vacations coming up and when your traveling you may want to listen to something other than the radio. 

You can find it on Amazon, audible, and itunes. 


Nancy Gideon said...

I can't seem to shut them up when I'm trying to fall asleep at night or when I'm driving to work in the morning, but when I try to recreate their conversations later, they never have much to say.

Diane Burton said...

A great post, Vicki. Of course, my characters talk to me. Like Nancy's, they appear at bedtime and tell me all kinds of exciting things. Do I get up and write it all down? Of course not. Do I remember everything in the morning? Of course not. LOL Yes, they're real. And have minds of their own. Reining them in can be a chore, at times. At other times, they take me on an adventure I never thought of. You are so lucky your husband enjoys your genre. Mine doesn't read novels. Nonfiction and magazines are his speed. (But, sweetheart that he is, he will read my stories.)

CJ Burright said...

I love that you talk to your husband about your characters! I've been on the receiving end of those she's-frickin'-crazy looks too, but the best characters feel like real people, whether they're my own or in books I love.