Are Characters Born or Made? (The “Meet My Character” Blog Tour)

Novelist at work

Most writers, I’m sure, have heard tell of characters who seemingly develop “minds of their own” and “take over”  the stories they’re part of.

Maybe it’s happened to you.

Whether or not this phenomenon even truly exists was the subject of the second-most contentious discussion my writing group has ever had.

(The most contentious, unsurprisingly, concerned plotting vs. pantsing.  But that’s a story for another day.)

One writer from my group absolutely believed that characters can come to life, and that them doing so is a quasi-spiritual experience for the writer – a channeling of the divine, uncontrollable inspiration that exists all around us.

A writing of the story through us rather than by us.

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The Emails I Send to Myself (I can’t be the only writer who does this)

Cat working on computer

I made a point some time ago to inform the IT manager at my workplace that I’m writing a novel.

Partly I did this because I’ve struck up a friendship with her over the years, and the fact eventually became a relevant addendum to her revelation of being an avid reader.

The other reason, though – perhaps the more pressing reason – is due to the nature of some of the emails I send.

Not that they’re offensive, or in any direct violation of the company’s Information Services & Technology user policy.  But they are … strange, not the least of which is because they are emails send to myself at my personal email address.

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Sometimes Magic Just Works: 4 Q&As about my WIP

Ravenswing Dress - The Dark Angel Design Company, Photography - Lunaesque

The Dark Angel Design Company, photography by Lunaesque

Time to talk about my WIP again!

I never used to do this at all, as the thought of giving the dreaded “elevator pitch” makes my stomach churn like too much greasy pizza too close to bedtime.

But like anything bearing the label “dreaded”, said dread is usually lessened over time through devoting regular thought and effort to improving at the task at hand.

In other words, I need to practice pitching and promoting myself more.

Which is why, when tagged by my blog-buddy Eric J. Baker, to answer four questions about my WIP as part of the Writing Process Blog Tour, and I agreed to participate.

The four questions are thus as follows:

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Don’t Talk About Fight Club: A writer’s paranoia in discussing a WIP

“What’s your novel about?”

Four simple words that never fail to strike terror in my heart.

Part of this is because such a simple query is seeking an equally concise reply – the dreaded “elevator pitch”, which is an art form of brevity on par with the haiku and the perfectly witty Tweet.  Plus, I’m almost never as glib a speaker as I wish when put on the spot like that.

As well, I dislike stating definitively that my WIP is the story of XYZ, when the end result may well come to be significantly different.

Stories are like life: more possibilities and purpose emerge the further along you go.  And just like life, it’s rather invalid to summarize the meaning of it all before it has approached its ultimate end.

Finally, I fear opening myself up to premature criticism of my plot through my inability to properly explain it while still in progress.  Or conversely, premature interest, and subsequent probing questions.

As a result of all this, when Australian historical fiction author Debbie Robson asked me to participate in the blog meme known as The Next Big Thing, I said, “Sure.”

Because why be consistent with one’s own personality traits?

Admittedly, I did offer the caveat that my answers would be vague, superstitious, and paranoiac since I am indeed all of the above.  Furthermore, having since put my blog on its 600-word diet gives me even more of an excuse to be equivocal.  Thus, without further ado:

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