Wednesday, May 21, 2008

How Does She Do That?

I have a t-shirt that reads "I live in my own little world, but that's okay, they know me here."

Writers do live in a world of their own. It's how we create. How our characters pop up either whispering, or sometimes screaming "tell my story NOW!" Trust me, there's nothing crazier than your character telling you what to do. Over the years I keep getting asked, "where do your ideas come from?" A lot of them are "what ifs?" Some come from something that happened to a friend, reading an article or seeing something on TV. And sometimes, a character pops up and insists I tell their story. Sometimes they oblige and tell me their story outright, sometimes, they make me work for it. Not that all ideas work. It's easy to do the "what if" and sit down and draft the story, but that doesn't mean everything falls together.

Jazz, my witch in 50 Ways to Hex Your Lover and Hex Appeal is such a case. I started her out one way, but I wasn't totally happy with what I had. Loved the character, hated the storyline. Jazz: Take Two. Kept her, dropped the story and worked with something else. This time around, I kept more, lost less but still not happy.

How did I know when, as Goldilocks says, "it was just right". Easy. The words flowed, the story sang. Well, at least it did to me. :} I didn't expect Jazz to behave. That just wasn't in her, but she was kind enough to see things my way just as I was smart enough to see them her way.

Coming up with ideas can be easy. Writing them into something coherent is a whole 'nother thing. But like I said. I live in my own little world and they know me there. And hopefully they'll continue to whisper in my ear. And maybe give me the whole idea more often and not just bits and pieces that I have to sort out!

What about you writers? Does that happen to you? And readers? Do you read a book that seems to have only a partial idea and you wonder if the author listened to his/her characters?

Linda

13 comments:

  1. Hi Linda,

    I need that t-shirt! Yes, my characters tell me what to do and if I don't listen, they go on strike! I find the story always benefits by letting them go where they want, so I just follow them around, taking notes.

    Ash

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  2. Hey Linda (and nice to see my friend Ashlyn stopping in to say hello)--great questions!! Do you find that sometimes it's the characters who run the show and other times it's the story? I've had it both ways where there was a story I had to tell and created characters to tell it. Other times, like in your case with Jazz, the character appears demanding I find a story for them. In either case, it's fun to live in our own world, especially when my kids yell at me--ARE YOU LISTENING TO US? Um, no, not at the moment... LOL
    Marie

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  3. Hi Ash!

    It was a favorite saying some years ago and my shirt comes in very handy.

    I think it's always good to let your characters tell you what's going on. They seem to know best.

    Linda

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  4. I find surprises, Marie. In Hex Appeal, I have the slippers accused of eating a carny and Jazz is convinced that's not the case, although the evidence is pretty bad against Fluff and Puff. What happens is something I hadn't planned. I think I just did automatic writing for that.

    Linda

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  5. I love the unplanned surprises, Linda. My favorite thing in any of my books was something totally unplanned that has made every reader gasp. Love that, and it's exactly why I write by the seat of my pants!

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  6. This is a really interesting idea. I know I can relate! Whether writing creatively or for work, sometimes ideas are there, it just takes a while for them to pan out. Then I end up waking up in the middle of the night scribbling away on a post-it I inevitably lose before the morning... Then when I find it, it makes NO SENSE. But at least the ideas are out there and are waiting to be worked on. Fun post, as always, Ms. Wisdom :)

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  7. LOL, Danielle!

    A friend of mine once woke up in the middle of the night and just wrote away in the dark. She was convinced it was perfect for her book. She woke up the next morning and read "Horses don't fly." I guess she forgot about Pegasus. :>

    Linda

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  8. GREAT Post, Linda!

    I LOVE it when my characters take over and take the story in unexpected twists, or say things I totally didn't expect. I wish it happened more often, but then, it wouldn't be quite so special.

    Can't wait to see how Fluff & Puff are proven innocent. Of course they didn't really eat that carny! Too much cholesterol! ;-)

    Cindy

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  9. Linda,
    I had a dream today that actually gave me an idea for a story! That is SO rare for me!
    Most of the time, my characters seem to use me to channel their thoughts. Sounds a bit crazy, and might get me locked up someday, but that's how it works!
    Cheryl

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  10. Cindy,

    Plus the carny's a wereweasel and they give them very bad gas. Not a good thing with the slippers.

    Linda

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  11. I wouldn't worry, Cheryl. I have a friend who's a pyschiatrist and she said hearing voices is okay for me because I'm a writer. :>

    Linda

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  12. Oh, Linda, you speak the truth! Sometimes characters are so strong that they simply will not cooperate. I have one right now who is keeping a secret from me, and my readers don't believe me when I say that he just won't tell. "Make him tell," they say. I can't! Love the t-shirt, too. Thanks for this great blog.
    Christina

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  13. That's the fun part, Christina. When I wrote the scenes leading up to what might vindicate Fluff and Puff, I had no clue what was going to happen. I just wrote. Luckily, it all turned out.

    Linda

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