Blog Chain: Dear Character, Who Are You?

Another interesting blog question time! Abby has this go-around with the following:

Where do your characters come from? And once they've been introduced to you, how do you get to know them?

Eric answered this question yesterday. Normally, I post all the links (besides the person who spotlights the current blogchain) at the end of the page, but he brought up the same sentiments I share when I comes to character creation.

I can't sit down and list the character's life story before writing the plot. I don't do character sketches. I don't do character collages (if you want to find out more about those, you can visit the wonderful Stina Lindenblatt and her post about getting an idea of what a character might look like. Sometimes I don't even have the character's name set in my mind. But I'll have the basis of a plotline. As I write along, the characters appear, fitting into every nook and cranny of the story as if I was just walking along the street happening upon scenes that unfold before my eyes.

I don't see creating a work of fiction as sitting and developing anything: not the plot, not the characters, not the story arcs or the dialogue or the pivotal point of the entire story. I see myself as someone happening upon the story with a notepad---you can either think of it as a fly on the wall type or a journalist---who listens and observes and commits to memory what is happening before crafting my story.

So, to make it simple, the characters pop into my head and I type everything down as an eyewitness account before their facts get tainted by my personal opinion. I'm on a tag-along for a police ride like those kids who have dreams of becoming an officer and sit in the back seat, jumping up and down with excitement, wondering (or is it perhaps hoping) something spectacular happens like a bank robbery. With guns blazing and people running, I'm right in the middle of all the action yet protected by the police cruiser's mesh prisoner cage.

The story appears in my head along with the characters. It makes things very exciting not finding out things about them until it happens, as I lean back in my chair and say, "Whoa! Never expected that!"

As I mentioned in the beginning, Eric posted a wonderful answer to the same question yesterday. Expect Kat's answer tomorrow.


  1. I love your descriptions of how you experience your stories as you write them!

  2. ...the characters pop into my head and I type everything down as an eyewitness account before their facts get tainted by my personal opinion.

    Nicely put. :)

  3. Interesting response. I, too, like what you said about typing everything down as an eyewitness account before facts get tainted by personal opinion.

    I'm curious, though, about how you keep the scene fresh during rewrites? That's one of the toughest things for me.

  4. Sandra: I like the intimacy when I imagine myself there at the scene, at a distance though.

    Shannon: Thanks! Since my stories are more mystery/suspense based, I attend a lot of crime scenes, like an investigator.

    Kat: I welcome rewrites, a little too much. I'll perform rewrites without even getting chapters finished yet. I think any scene that doesn't feel fresh anymore has to be changed completely, even after walking away from the story for a bit and then coming back and rereading the part. Something has to be wrong/missing with it. I've scrapped sections/chapters that bored me to tears. No point putting readers through the same misery.

  5. Great response, Michelle. It completely fits you too (or at least how I visualize you when you're writing). All you need now is one of those reporter's hats and a plastic Press badge.

  6. Anonymous10:21:00 AM

    Nice post! I like your approach. Sometimes it takes a while for my characters to fully form too. I always get stuck with names. ;)

  7. I love your posts! You always post such great metaphors and descriptions. Fantastic!

  8. Well said. I also like how you write fast to avoid the story being tainted by your own experiences. I never thought of it like that but it's great!

  9. Great response, Michelle. I love seeing everyone's answers and marveling how different they are and how different things work for other people. So cool :)

  10. Love your analogy of tagging along for a police ride, and just writing down the facts. Great post!


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