28. Telling their lives with our words ...

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Mood: contemplative
Music: Killing me softly - Lauryn Hill

I was sitting here after I came home from a shopping venture and listening to one of my mix CD's. I love taken CD's or music I've found and making custom mixes for myself. Music is always playing throughout the day for me. This song came on my CD player, and listening to it the song can really be applied to writing. At least some of the lyrics.

"Singin my life with his words. Killing me softly with his song. Telling my whole life with his words. Killing me softly with his song. I heard he sang a good song. I heard he had a style, and so I came to see him and listen for a while."

As a writer, we tell the stories of our characters lives. They tell us what to say and we put them down in words we create. When you write, the words become a part of you. The second they leave your fingers and hit the screen or the page, depending on your medium, they become yours. They are your creation, and they have meaning.

The same can be said about characters in fiction. Over time writing them, characters can take a life of their very own. You create them. You give them life. You give them emotions and feelings. You give them thoughts and you give them things to say. You, as the writer, do all of this. With enough time, the characters can seem real because you gave them life. You made them real. Hopefully, when those that read the work eventually, the characters will seem real to them, and make the person reading somehow identify with them.

This reminds me of a phone conversation I had months ago with a former friend of mine. I was speaking to him about a character of my own that I have created. This is a character I created for an interactive fiction. My partner and I have been writing these two characters for well over a year now. At one point, we were writing them daily. She would write hers, and I would write mine. With enough time and effort, these characters have taken a life of their very own. They feel real. They seem real. We know they aren't, but we've both put so much into them and their creation, they seem it.

I told my friend this, and he told me to stop talking crazy. Characters are just that, characters. They aren't real. The way I see it though. They are real. They are real because as the writer it is your mission by the end of the story they are contained in to become real to the person reading it. If the characters aren't real, then the reader doesn't feel the story. There is no message received from it. They are left feeling empty and with a sense of wasted time and loss.

The characters in your story need to be real in order to be memorable. If the reader can somehow internalize and identify with the character, then you, as the writer, have done your job and hopefully done it well. The characters you create should leap off the page and be living and breathing entities on their own.

This is something that takes much practice to do. It isn't something that comes naturally to every writer. Character development is something that is learned over time. There are methods to it, ways to help you do it, but in reality it is something that takes time, effort, and above all, patience.


Amen to every bit of that, hun. You basically just said the very thing that I've always felt: my characters are very much real to me, and hopefully they will be just as real to others. :) (Especially Ashley and Morgan. LOL)


Gina said...

Thank you, Liz. Let's hope that others will someday love our creations as much as we do.

Emily V said...

Real in the emotional engagement way--not the wanting to marry them way, of course.

TYo me Killing Me Softly has to be Roberta Flack--followed by Only Woman Bleed... sigh, memories.

*chuckles* Well, considering that all mine are queer as football bats, they wouldn't want to marry a woman anyway. LOL ;)

chryscat said...

NO ONE will understand what your characters mean to you except for a fellow writer.
I talk all the time about the voices in my head because they are real to me. REAL people. REAL emotions.
If we could not convey a three dimensional person to our readers, then what good are we? We're not.
Breathing life into a character is a gift.

Gina said...

Yes, Emily in the emotionally engaging way. Theway in which the reader wants to read page after page until the story is complete. Although I'm sure the other has happened as well.

I've come to believe that, Crystal. The only ones that can understand are writers themselves.

Suzanne said...

I always thinks of my characters as real people. I think of them living on after the book. I know what they're doing now. LOL. I'm not one who does character charts or things like that. I just get to know them through the writing.

Gina said...

I'm the same way, Suzanne. I don't do charts or things of that sort either. I just allow the characters speak to me as I write.

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