spot_img

When Characters Speak

By: Steven James

When I started writing, I never realized that I wouldn’t so much be creating the characters for the stories that I write as I would be letting them speak for themselves. It’s almost as if my job is to let them reveal themselves to me and then be honest to the reader about who they really are.

 

Odd. I know. But that’s how things have played out.

 

Eight years ago when I was writing my first psychological suspense novel, The Pawn, I remember sitting on the back porch reading through a first draft of one scene in which Tessa, the main character’s teenage stepdaughter, appeared. She seemed whiny and one-dimensional and I just wasn’t interested in her. I didn’t like her. I didn’t care much what happened to her.

 

But then, as I worked on the story, it was almost like I could hear her tell me, “That’s not what I’m like. You don’t know me yet. Let me show myself to you.”

 

So, as I wrote, I tried to let her do that and, sure enough, she began to emerge—a girl who was whip-smart, witty and independent, but also emotionally wounded and searching for answers. Her inconsistencies intrigued me. There was so much more to her than I would have ever thought. After that, she vied for a bigger part in the next novel, The Rook, and I had to give it to her.

 

She’s been around the series ever since and, from what many readers tell me, she’s one of their favorite characters.

 

But it’s not just her.

 

It’s happened with other bit characters who I thought would just appear in one book, and then fade away, but they lobbied my subconscious or picketed my imagination to have a bigger part in the next book. At times I fought against this, and when I did, the story suffered. But when I gave in and let the characters be themselves and have their way, the story resonated as being more honest.

 

I know it sounds a little crazy—after all, I’m supposed to be in control, right?. I’m the author, the guy who’s job it is to make this stuff up. Not the characters.

 

The problem is: sometimes my characters don’t like how they’re being portrayed and they’re not ashamed to tell me so. And, since they live in my head, they won’t leave me alone if I don’t give them what they want.

 

It’s annoying.

 

Blur

Recently I wrote a teen thriller called Blur. When high-school football star Daniel Byers begins to have visions relating to the suspicious death of a girl at his school, he and his friends question whether he’s mentally ill or gifted with a psychic ability that could lead them to solve the mystery.

 

As the gritty mystery unfolds, Daniel slowly begins to lose touch with reality. Writing his story, I glimpsed what it would be like to be trapped on the avenue to madness. It’s the place where reality and fantasy blur, the place where you can’t tell where the line is between what your mind is telling you is real and what other people are telling you is real.

 

It’s sort of the place I make a living.

 

So maybe it’s not so bad—this whole deal of living with imaginary characters who tell me what to do. I supposed the journey into a story is it’s own kind of anointed madness. And I’m just glad I can invite other people along for the ride.

 

You can learn more about Steven’s novel Blur here

Similar Articles

Comments

FOLLOW US

2,023FansLike
3,108FollowersFollow
10,500SubscribersSubscribe

Recent Book Trailers

Instagram

Advertismentspot_img

Don't Miss

Hobbit Day and Tolkien Week Sept 19 – 25, 2021

0
Did you know there was a Hobbit Day and Tolkien Week? Are you a rabid fan of all things J.R.R. Tolkien? The American Tolkien...

ZONDERKIDZ ANNOUNCES NEW PODCAST

0
The Jesus Storybook Bible Podcast premieres September 23 with guests Amy Grant and Bishop Michael Curry Zonderkidz is pleased to announce that New York Times bestselling author Sally...

SNEAK PEEK: PASSAGES BY H. M. GOODEN

0
PASSAGES Death.  Dementia. And Everything in Between An in-depth look at the transitions of life through Poetry and Prose By family physician and critically acclaimed author, H.M....

SNEAK PEEK: THE COMMODORE’S GIFT BY MANDY EVE BARNETT

0
THE COMMODORE’S GIFT BY MANDY EVE BARNETT Fighting against society’s feminine expectations, Owena’s excellent strategic and swordsmanship skills come to the fore after an attack...

SNEAK PEEK: DOWN IN NEW ORLEANS BY HEATHER GRAHAM

0
DOWN IN NEW ORLEANS BY HEATHER GRAHAM I didn’t do it. Those are the words Ann Marcel’s ex-husband, Jon, mutters the day he staggers through her...

SNEAK PEEK: STRENGTH UNDER FIRE BY LINDSAY MCKENNA

0
STRENGTH UNDER FIRE BY LINDSAY MCKENNA New York Times bestselling author Lindsay McKenna returns to Silver Creek, Wyoming, where a Black Ops veteran  finds the...

Cozy Reads for Rainy Days

0
Cozy up with these mysteries for those rainy days! Fresh Brewed Murder by Emmeline Duncan Master barista Sage Caplin is opening a new coffee cart in Portland,...

SNEAK PEEK: Publishing Pitfalls / The Relaxed Author By Mark Leslie Lefebvre

0
Publishing Pitfalls / The Relaxed Author By Mark Leslie Lefebvre Publishing Pitfalls / The Relaxed Author The Newest Insights By Publishing Expert - Mark Leslie Lefebvre,...

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

0
There's a Book for That: Hispanic Heritage Month Welcome to Hispanic Heritage Month which runs from September 15 through October 15. Hispanic Heritage Month, whose roots...

‘Oh, The Places You’ll Go’ After the Pandemic by Marina Adair

0
Like many, my family has spent the past ten months sheltering in place, watching through the window as time passes by. Like a character...