Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Saying Goodbye--Letting our Characters into the World

Nope, this isn't about saying goodbye to my blog. This is about saying goodbye to characters in our stories. You know the ones. Through the course of your book, you've gotten to know them. After all, you made up their lives! You gave them a name, gave them a way to talk, and showed them how to act. But after a while, the tables turn, don't they? They begin to show you how they want to act, and talk, and interact with other characters. Just like bringing a child up in the world, our characters take on their own identity, and some of the things they do surprise us. They take us through the twists and turns of their conflicts, resolutions and happily ever afters.

As you grow a relationship with these heroes, heroines, and ultimate bad guys, your compassion and unconditional love for them develops and thickens through the course of the story. They become part of your family. You live and breathe their actions as you pursue your word count for the day. The words we use to describe them on the page transform into living, breathing people. They even talk to you at all odd hours of the night. And you know every one of their thoughts.. You do help them make decisions, but primarily its their personalities that drive the story--their hangups and their strong points.

But somehow, as the story winds down, and the time nears for them to launch their story to the world, they don't need you to help them along the way. Once you write "The End", they want to say goodbye for good. Part of us wants to hold on, and never let them out into the world, but the other part of us wants to scream to readers "I hope you love them as much as I do!".

As writers, we miss the friends we create. But its the readers who keep them alive, by their interest and the emotion they feel from our stories. At book signings and author events, we can talk about our characters and re-live our time with them through the eyes of our readers. That is one of the greatest joys of being a writer. We get to grow characters, set them out to the world, and then experience the joy others have found in them.

And then....and then we get to start over again and get to know the new characters in town. :)


RoseAnn DeFranco said...

So well put, Chris! I love it when they take on a life of their own. Sometimes I can't wait to write because I can't wait to see what they do next, like I have no part in it! It is hard to let go which makes me look at the supporting characters and think...SERIES!

Christine Clemetson said...

Hi RoseAnn, I feel the same away about characters taking on a life of their own--as if we don't have a say! I love the idea of series too!

Thanks for posting!

Jesspoirvivant said...

Oh Chris, this was wonderful. What a feeling that must be, I can only say this as an avid reader who takes characters to heart, & often revisit them like family. Thanks for making me a part of yours.

Christine Clemetson said...

Hi Jessica,

Thanks for the post! You must have the same feelings with poetry, right?