Talking to ourselves

In matociquala‘s journal folks are discussing whether they want/need to talk about their stories-in-progress.

This got me to thinking about the question of whether our stories talk to us.

Specifically, whether our characters talk to us. We had this discussion in my writer’s group last night. “Don’t your characters talk to you?” I asked another writer there, and she answered, “No.” On further questioning, she said she will put herself in her characters’ heads in an objective sort of way, think, “What would I do if I were this sort of person in that sort of situation.” But she doesn’t hear her characters as if they were actually there in her head holding a conversation with her.

I do. know this is ultimately a construct, a matter of letting my subconscious work, but as a story goes on, the characters become more and more resident in my psyche. I’ll ask them questions, and they’ll answer, and not always the answers I want them to give. I’ll go for walks and have conversations with them. When I’m deep into the book, nearing the end of a draft, they’ll venture opinions on things that have nothing to do with the story, local politics, the state of the world, a dress on a rack somewhere.

If I were an actor, I’d be of the deep method school. By the end of a story, I’m in my characters’ heads, and they’re in mine. Every rewrite I do, I need to coax them back before I can rewrite successfully.

Presumably this is like all writing process things, and there’s a continuum. To what extent do the rest of you talk to your characters, and to what extent do your characters talk to you?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *