Talking to characters

(Found this in a file of “posts to post one day,” so it’s actually a few months old, now.)

Like many writers, I talk to my characters.

Which ought to feel like talking to myself, but doesn’t, especially since my characters and I don’t always agree. (This is the sort of thing one is careful not to admit to in the company of strangers with whom one is not well acquainted, or else one gets some very odd looks indeed.) I’m especially likely to have such conversations while drifting off to sleep, but really, they can happen any time.

Anyway, the other day, I was feeling bored just a few minutes into step aerobics class, so I cast about for a character to silently chat with, hoping this would help the hour go quicker. Most of my characters just looked at me and wandered off; I don’t tend to write about characters to whom step aerobics makes any sense or is at all interesting. But then a minor character, a rebel leader from one of my stories, looked at me, realized she had my undivided attention, and started talking.

Rebel Leader: “So, I want you to get rid of the Invaders.”

Me: “And you think I can do this because?” After all, someone who has to work at step aerobics is not exactly the sort of person who’s likely to get rid of an invading magical army single-handed.

RL: “Because you’re the author, that’s why. You can make them leave. You have that power. You can make them as if they’d never been.”

Me: “Umm. You do realize that I’m the one who created the Invaders and sent them to attack you? I might not be the best person to help you out here.”

RL: “Yes, but surely now you realize the error of your ways. And you can make it so that the very earth, angered at seeing the blood of my people shed upon it, turns against the Invaders, and shudders beneath their feet, and refuses to support their steps, and devours them whole!”

Me: “Hey, that’d be pretty powerful! Still … no.”

RL: “So all your talk about listening to your characters is nothing but another Invader lie?”

Me: “No, no! But, umm–getting rid of the Invaders is your job, not mine. I’m thinking a long drawn out civil war might do the trick.”

RL: (glares)

Me (relenting): “You might want to keep an eye on that Invader magic, though. You might find it is … not quite what it once was. But you didn’t hear it from me.”

RL: (glares some more, then nods once and walks away, without so much as offering thanks for the information she’s been given)

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