“Writing: Somewhere between torture and fun.” – The Write Practice

“I just sit at my typewriter and curse a bit.” — P.G. Wodehouse


My current project, an historical novel, started as a short story written during a creative writing class. The sudden death of an important, but minor, character propelled the scenes to a heartbreaking conclusion. After reading my final version aloud, I looked up to see tears flowing from the eyes of several classmates. Pleased that my work received the emotional response I desired, I shelved the story with no plans for further development.

For several years the characters continued to invade my thoughts insisting I reveal more about their lives. I finally relented and gave them proper historical names, added more dialogue, and expanded their storyline. My short story became the catalyst, but not the beginning, of a novel.

The words spilled onto the pages for months until suddenly the plot stalled because my characters rebelled at the direction I took them. The character who died now wanted a more significant role than originally planned. This character asked for, no, demanded to be resurrected to find a place in this world, to see the changing seasons, to experience adventures, to feel loved.

This frustrated me because that character’s inclusion changed the entire plot forcing me to do more research to add authenticity to the details.

Call me crazy if you wish, but I now believe what some writers have said about their characters talking to them. The characters know their story better than I do. After all, it is their story, not mine. I’m only the storyteller or historian whose job it is to simply tell their story in a convincing, thought provoking way.

Do your characters speak to you? If so, do you listen? Have you changed a storyline to accommodate your characters’ desires?

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