I am a novice author with only one novel under my belt, but I have already experienced all of this. I used to think that authors who talked about the relationships and deep involvement that they had with their characters were just being luvvies. But I have found out for myself that it is true. I can read my own words about my own fictional character and burst into tears. I know that I am an emotional person, but it seems ridiculous. I must be crazy. I made it all up.
And it is also true about characters walking into a story and you wonder, “Where the heck did he come from? I never thought of him before I started writing today!” That happened to me in the penultimate chapter of Eleven Miles. I can’t say who it was, because that would be a bit of a spoiler if you haven’t read it yet. But if you have, perhaps you can guess?
I’ve been thinking a lot about role models and how they influence a writer’s work; the ways this translates to our readers.
There’s a reason writers become invested in their characters, why they often refer to them as real; a living, breathing part of the world as they know it. They have a history, complex personalities, and emotional depth. For readers, if we’re lucky, this equates to a character springing to life on the page.
Regardless of the process or how much planning is involved, as writers, we draw from our environment, and our experience. We observe behaviour, ask questions, have a sensitivity to body language, and pay attention. But it’s more than that. The people we meet, those we know – we use these observations to build unique fictional people. Then we give them a place to belong.
It’s not always a conscious…
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