I like it when I’m writing a scene and the characters take over. “How is that possible?” you may ask. You might even point out that the characters are merely figments of my imagination. They are constructs of my mind.
I would have to agree with you.
The thing is, if you create characters that are realistic in the what they do, say and think, sometimes the subconscious mind simply starts to build the narrative without you, the writer, being completely aware of it. It’s almost as if they were coming alive.
Some of the most fun scenes to write for me have happened that way. I can barely wait to see what my fingers will type next.
If you think my statement that sometimes my characters take over makes me unhinged, you will really believe it after the next thing I tell you.
My characters will sometimes nag me to write their stories.
That particular insight comes from a few of my stories, both long and short. Ordinarily it manifests itself in the form of story ideas for those nagging characters and sometimes feelings of guilt. Guilt that I haven’t visited them in a while.
Now, before you start to really worry, I’m not talking about voices telling to do things. THAT would be crazy! No, I’m more referring to that inner knowledge that those characters have more story to be told. I think the guilty part of that is, I know I’m robbing my readers of more interactions and adventures with those characters. I’m also robbing myself of the opportunity to have fun telling those stories.
How is this relevant to NaNoWriMo?
The topic of Characters take over is completely relevant to NaNoWriMo. Many of us participating are doing so in discovery writing mode (or panther mode depending on your preference of terms). When we have a good writing day, we hit a flow and the words almost write themselves. Often that is happening because the characters take over (or seem to).
I had that happen on Day 15. I had a pretty strong idea of where I wanted the scene to go but I wasn’t completely sure how it would get there. So, I started writing the scene.
Almost 1,500 words later, the scene felt complete and the way it flowed felt right to me. It also ended up being resolved in a way that will drive further character interactions. Not a one and done by any means.
That’s a reward in itself. A scene that simply ends and doesn’t really interact with the rest of the story feels like it doesn’t belong. It might very well resolve a dangling plot thread but it doesn’t really feel satisfying to me. I want it to contribute to the story as a whole otherwise it feels like it’s leaving the reader and the story in the lurch (at least, it does to me).
Let’s see where it takes me on day 16