• Do Your Characters Go Boneless?

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Character     Comments No comments

    BonelessOver at Life as a Human Justine wrote about a character who went from sitting beside her patiently, waiting for his turn (i.e. her writing time) to come along, to barging in on her everyday life, unheeded: “He tugged on my sleeve during conversations, rested on my knee at meals, and followed me into the shower (shocking, I know) … This character I once possessed had taken possession of me.”

    For me, characters often take their sweet damn time to emerge, and their even sweeter damn time to act and speak. I try to move down the page, but my characters lag behind. I have to tug on their sleeves. Their dialogue comes slowly, their actions like molasses.

    William Faulkner had the opposite experience: “It begins with a character,” he once wrote, “usually, and once he stands up on his feet and begins to move, all I can do is trot along behind him with a paper and pencil trying to keep up long enough to put down what he says and does.”

    Faulkner chased his characters. Justine’s characters chase her. My characters just stand there dumbly, waiting for me to drag them along. They go boneless, like Shawn in Psych.

    Do your characters hassle you during your non-writing time? Do you have to trot along after them, trying to keep up? Or do your characters go boneless? What are your strategies for making them behave? Let us know below.


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