Monday, November 1, 2010

The Character Spoke To Me...

I have met numerous writers who have told me some version of this when asked how they dream up their stories: "Well, I just heard the character in my head. They told me their story. And I wrote it down."

I alternate on being envious, fascinated and very creeped out by these people. Envious because it doesn't seem like they have to put a lot of work into their writing if they are hearing the words in their head. Fascinated because they are hearing voices in their heads. And very creeped out because, let's face it...


Unlike these writers, I have never heard a character's voice in my head. I've never had a whole scene "come to me" like a movie reel, I've never had a dream that plotted my entire book and I've never felt like my characters were my friends - nor talked about them like they were so.

I think all of us here at Scribble Chicks enjoy writing tremendously. We love to spend hours working on a story, we love to see where the book ends up, we love the ins and outs of creating great stories.

But, I think all of us would agree. Writing is work.

Hard work. And sometimes, writing is more hard work than fun. Which means that instead of hearing our characters talking to us, we're more concerned with the ebb and flow of a particular passage or grinding our teeth over a scene that is making us want to throw the whole computer out the window.

When I'm coming up with a character, I usually have a vague thought about the kind of person I want them to be. Most of the characters I write are loosely based on a culmination of people I know. Tall, short, heavy, thin, glasses, curly hair - I have a basic thought of what they look like physically and a lot of ideas about their personality. Lastly, I have a overarching theme of what I want to explore with the book (with Miss Match, it was the sovereignty of God. With Cool Beans, it was learning to trust God).

So, maybe you're like me and you've never heard a character tell you his or her entire life story. Fear not - you might have to discover how hard writing actually is.

But in the process you'll also have a whole lot of fun.

And that makes it all worth it. Regardless of your ground-down teeth. ;)


  1. Erynn, I think I'm like you. I just write but nothing really comes to me beforehand. Sometimes I have ideas but most of it comes as I'm writing it. 
    Characters don't talk to me either. It's funny though because I used a scene I wrote in a crit group & they pointed out how strong & sassy a character was. So now when I write things I try to check in my would a sassy person really say that? Like now that she acted like that it one scene I want to carry it through. It can be hardwork like you said and at those times I wish characters talked to me!

  2. I don't hear voices in my head, but I do see my stories like a movie playing...I already know a lot about my characters and the entire plot before I start working. But that's jut me :)

  3. Sometimes I see movie clips, but yeah I don't reall HEAR them in my head. I think a lot of authors probably say that more figurativeley than literally, although I'm sure there are always some of the other! =) Creepy indeed. hehe. But to each their own! Whatever works =)

  4. Sometimes I wonder about people who say that. I know Stephanie Meyer had that dream and all that sparked the Twilight books, which I can see that, but I don't know about having whole scenes come before your eyes...