Characters are a bit like the writer’s pox. Instead of itchy red dots all over our skin, we have itchy personalities peppering our minds. Some are louder than others and we end up scratching those first because no matter how many times we’re told we shouldn’t scratch, the itch cannot be ignored.
As we scratch, fleshing that character out on the page, their voice becomes clearer and their story apparent. Often the process draws blood, a mix of fiction and fact that bleeds onto the page until it is difficult to distinguish between character and author. Neither would exist without the other, after all.
In my novel Deviation I have two women abducted through space and time, one a writer and one a mother. The writer finds herself being hailed as a prophet for things she wrote in her fiction, which was a horrifying thought for both the character and me, the author.
If you’ve read any of my work, you’ve seen the horrible things I put my characters through. I’m pretty sure most would want to kill me if they were real and standing in my apartment.
The other character, the mother, is desperate to get home to her family. She has a young son who needs her and she has to get back.
Midway through my revision of the novel I realized I had written my real life struggle into the plot. You see, at the time I was a new mother. My son was only months old and I felt like I was two people – a devoted mother who wanted nothing more than to see to the needs of my son, and an author who needed to carve out time to write.
As I completed my revision of the novel, I came to an understanding that has carried me through the last ten years of my son’s life; both the writer and the mother are essential parts of who I am as a person.
While the novel never addresses this personal journey, the ending still reminds me of the lesson Reesa and Kate taught me. I will always find a way to write, and I will always be a mother.
See what lessons my fellow authors have discovered through their characters in this month’s round robin…
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
A.J. Maguire https://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/ (YOU ARE HERE)
Marci Baun http://www.marcibaun.com/blog/
Marie Laval http://marielaval.blogspot.co.uk/
Judith Copek http://lynx-sis.blogspot.com/
Dr. Bob Rich https://wp.me/p3Xihq-1c1
Rachael Kosinski http://rachaelkosinski.weebly.com/
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Rhobin L Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com
Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com/
8 thoughts on “What I Learn from my Characters – February 2018 Round Robin”
So true that we find ourselves writing our personal struggles into our character’s lives.
Lovely post, AJ, especially about the importance of learning, and accepting, who you are.
Started laughing when I reached writer’s pox. A slightly different view from the one I posted, but very true.
What a perfect description of characters! It’s so true!
Now you’ve got me itching all over! Stop it immediately! (My stories tend to have lots of characters, so this is a MAJOR infection).
You’ve explained perfectly how two of your major motivations manifested in two characters. Excellent.
Loved the comparison of the itchy pox to writing- a unique approach. And how you learned about yourself from writing.
So many writers are torn between their writing and their families. And. we put this conflict into our writing somehow. That was a good observation. It happens even after children are “grown.” They will may need you and take up time and bandwidth.
I love your description of “writer’s pox.” Sometimes I feel like my characters are yelling at me in my head, since I have so little time to write. Other times they’re pouting, and won’t “talk” to me until I beg them to. As a kid I thought everyone walked around with characters talking in their heads, telling them stories about their lives. Now I only mention it to other writers, so no one sneaks out to surreptitiously make me a reservation in a room with padded walls! ;-D