Sunday, May 15, 2011

Who Is the Real Character?

The relationship between the writer and her characters
Do you inhabit your characters or do they inhabit you?

What does the question and its answer mean to you?

Post your answers below!
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27 comments :

  1. Hmmm.... This is a tough one. I think a little of both for me. I feel very close to my main character-- as if she were family. She is a compilation of three real women in my life-- myself included. :)

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  2. @BBB
    Hi BBB
    Thanks for your input. I am hoping to get responses on this and after a while, I will post my feelings, too!
    have a great day,
    Emily

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  3. Chris Shaw5:37 PM

    Wow. This sounds like a familiar discussion. :) As you know, I have been finding it so hard to separate the two (myself and my character). But once again your choice of words makes me think -especially the word "inhabit" because rather than ask myself "is the character me or am I the character", I can be comfortable knowing that my character does live inside of me and I can also live inside of her. This is a great way to start resolving this challenge. See you soon.

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  4. Hi Chris,
    Glad to hear from you... been thinking of you and how things are going. Glad this opened a new window!
    Hope to see you soon,
    Emily

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  5. They definitely inhabit me. When I am immersed in a piece of writing and I let myself go, the character speaks through me and the story flows. It's as if they are dictating it to me. If I look too closely though or ask where am I going, the connection is quickly lost.

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  6. @BBB
    Hi again, BBB
    I've been thinking about what you wrote and I understand totally how you feel, as if your character is family. There is another thought that might push this a bit further. Although she is a complilation of others and yourself, she is rising from within you and so she is more that that compilation. She is a new creation who you are birthing and at the same time, she is birthing you.

    For me, the key is when I fall hopelessly in love with my characters, especially my pov character(s). Then I know I am ready to inhabit them, let them create and as they create, create me.

    One of my favorite quote from Carl Jung:
    The work in process becomes the poet's fate and determines his psychic development. It is not Goethe who creates Faust, but Faust who creates Goethe.

    For me this is so true, because my characters have lead me to part of myself I did not know were there, did not know I'd lost, and with their help, I found them, and grew,
    and am a woman, because of them, that I never dreamed I would be.

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  7. Hi Dora Dee,
    I definitely know what you are talking about. Character so dictate. I sometimes think I am channeling them, and since I write historicals, sometimes I think I am writing about me in a past life!

    When we look to closely, we lose the connection, the flow, because we flip into our left side, rational brain, and the magic rises up from the right side, intuitive!
    Thanks for sharing,
    Emily

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  8. @Emily Hanlon

    "For me this is so true, because my characters have lead me to part of myself I did not know were there, did not know I'd lost, and with their help, I found them, and grew,
    and am a woman, because of them, that I never dreamed I would be."

    I can very much relate to your statement. Thank you, Emily! :)

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  9. @Emily Hanlon

    "For me this is so true, because my characters have lead me to part of myself I did not know were there, did not know I'd lost, and with their help, I found them, and grew,
    and am a woman, because of them, that I never dreamed I would be."

    I can very much relate to your statement. Thank you, Emily! :)

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  10. Typically my characters, especially the protagonists, are strong, talented individuals. Stronger than me, more talented than me. They are me, version 2.2 if you will. Women, who if they put their mind to it, could rule the world.

    The funny thing about it is that I am constantly amazed at what comes next. Sometimes I actually shake my head and wonder how they managed to pull that off.

    So what does that mean, do they inhabit me, or do I inhabit them? It beats me.

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  11. I stopped by your blog today
    Ann

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  12. Anonymous10:16 AM

    Just discovered your blog, thanks for taking the time.
    This is a two-way street. You inhabit them to give them flesh, transplanting realness onto the page, letting them take from you until they can stand on their own.
    Once you see someone you like - even when they're obnoxious - you tend to start borrowing from them, finding you enjoy the way they are, and one day, you see yourself repeating something one of them has done.
    As for villains, you love borrowing from every fight and showdown you've ever had and witnessed.

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  13. My character was a combination of my own experience and an experience of a longlost friend. She is very much an extension of my experience, but she does something I would never do. So I think I inhabited her. Writing my novel was also a way for me to deal with a very emotional issue that involved my friend, so it was a way to deal, release and create hope out of something hopeless. That last aspect made the character become something in and of herself, outside of me. Hmmm, your question promotes a very introspective discussion!

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  14. This is actually something I have thought about a lot and I believe that my characters inhabit me in the way that I try to associate with them and it would be fun to be them. Unfortunately most of my work is fantasy and I don't have magickal powers or anything so I can't actually be my characters :(.

    -Ian
    theorphanbook.wordpress.com

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  15. This is a fantastic question I've have had dance around in my head quite often. When I created Desire, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Originally a bit player in a story I had been working on, before I knew what was happening she had taken over every scene. It became obvious that the story I was using her to try and tell wasn't as important as the story she was telling through me. My writing was never even remotely 'R-rated', but from the moment her voice first appeared on the page I knew that she was going to keep the censor in my head very busy. It's amazing how a fictional character can take on a life of their own.

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  16. I'm new to following your blog. I think it's awesome =]

    I believe that my main character is a part of me. Her personality is similar to mine, but different in ways I wish I could be different. A lot of my other characters have personality traits that I wished I had. Only some though lol. They even have traits of those around me. I feel like writers adapt to their surroundings. You live life, then you take life into your own control in your writing.

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  17. Anonymous11:15 AM

    I do not inhabit my characters; nor do they inhabit me. I am merely the instrument of their realization. Once, when I was forced to stop working on a novella for several years, I imagined my characters sitting together on a porch somewhere lamenting, even cursing, my absence. They existed apart from me, but were unable to move forward without me there to tell their story.

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  18. Anonymous2:06 PM

    Up till now, I've always believed that I've inhabited my characters. Recently, my writing tutor remarked that my stories were littered with crazy characters which I hadn't noticed until she mentioned it, and which is absolutely correct... In view of her comments and your question about characters inhabiting the writer, I now seriously wonder about it... Should I mention that I lead a normal life but that sometimes, in order to cope with outbursts/reactions (contained and constrained) within myself to handle external situations, I have resolved to name those outbursts that come to mind, such as rudes ones ("Click", a rude skinhead in my head) or old fashion ideas("pompous Rowena"). There's a couple more but I'll stop the damage here. Who inhabits who? The answer is as big as the universe.

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  19. I start by creating the characters, and then they come to life a piece at a time, until by the end of the first draft, they talk to me. Then in the re-write process I hear them quite clearly!


    www.diamondhour.com

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  20. Hey there.....

    Great Post, I have a blog and I really need some professional writers to help me if that will be possible! ..... Here's the link: http://thelegendoftheplanet.blogspot.com

    see you there ... thanks,

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  21. Hello
    When I am writing I become the character, so the character is me yet they have none of my characteristics, I also tend to daydream my scenes around my characters a lot not when writing and then I am them. I think my characters are often who I would like to be and this is why I relate so much. This is a really interesting blog so thank you for creating it, I am trying to get going with writing properly now and so these conversations are hugely interesting!
    (I think i can attach a link if you want to read my flash fiction attempt)

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  22. First of all I am really sorry if this comment appears twice my internet went dodgy.
    I actually think as my characters as I am writing and also daydreaming through scenes which I do quite often in bed, on the metro, in the car etc. I think although I am not like my characters I would quite often want to act like they do in a situation have their bravery, outspokeness, humour etc. and this is why I feel so connected to them.
    I have just come across your blog and as I am trying to get going with writing at the moment I think it is brilliant and these kind of conversations are great, so thank you.

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  23. Good question. For me it is a little bit of both. I become very close to my characters and they are real to me. There are times however that they take over and want to dictate to me how a cetain action in the story should occur. My MC has been known to tell me that there is no way she would act or react the way I just described and when I read back over what I have written she is often right

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  24. If I was a writer, I will most likely inhabhit my characters:)

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  25. i think this question goes both ways. my work that i am creating right now is multi-perspective. this is nice because i can split up mixed feelings on a certain subject to different characters. my characters possess some qualities i have and some that i wish i did. the qualities that some of the characters have that i do not possess, are ones from my family and friends. like i said before, i am a part of them as much as they are a part of me. some people tell me that i should have control over my writing. but then it wouldnt be the same. the CHARACTERS are the ones whos "lives" are being effected by the writing. since i have been working on this novel for a while, their reactions to the events that occur in it are now so clear. i dont have to over think what they will do because it just flows. it seems so natural and by them being a part of me, it makes everthing/the characters seem 3-D.
    this is a great question that really helped me reflect on my writing. the answer is the same.

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  26. Hi Emily,

    yeah well I tend to think, and I tell my students this that I fell your characters live through you. It's like channelling, where they come from somewhere else, not necessarily from other worlds or beyond the veil (and I begrudge nobody their belief systems), but more likely from our wonderful limitless unconscious. Everything we take into our senses represents a HUGE amount of data, and of our amazing human bandwidth for sensory data about our world we are only aware of about 0.1% of it as it goes in. But where does it go? Into our subconscious. Every person we have ever heard talk, every turn of phrase, every attitude, every eye colour/hair colour combination, every tone of voice we have ever seen or heard... it's all in there somewhere and our brilliant creative mind is mushing up and reconnecting all that data continuously as we live our life. We all have dreams which take place in places and contain people we have never seen before, and yet they seem real. Our minds are gigantic supercomputers which process feelings and thoughts and ideas. All you have to do to create your own worlds is learn how to let it all out on demand.

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  27. There are many things that should be considered and you have made me good point. Thank you for the nice article that you have done.

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