Who are those people, anyway?
I’m speaking of the people inhabiting the shadows of your half-envisioned story. Those people, who, if encouraged, will take on form and substance, will become real in that shadowy story world of your mind. Those people, who, if given half a chance, will come alive, will make your story real, will make it believable and enjoyable to read.
The first time one of those cardboard cutouts, who I’d stood up in a scene for the benefit of my main character, said something I hadn’t planned for him to say, it freaked me out. I was afraid to tell anyone, for fear the men in white coats would be making an unscheduled visit to my front door. But I tentatively told a trusted confidante, who is a writer, and she assured me that it happens to writers — a character becomes real and takes on a life of his/her own, says or does things you, the writer, had not planned on.
Since that time, I’ve enjoyed the process of watching these imagined people become real in the story, and I’ve become attached to some of them, have come to know and like them. And have been reluctant to bid them “goodbye” when the story was finished.
And now, I’m starting the adventure again, coaxing each of the characters in my new story to come out of the shadows, to take on substance, to show me who they are and what they are like.
It makes the writing process seem more like a discovery than a creative venture.
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