Write Like Your Characters Really Exist

My NaNoWriMo story (which is going unexpectedly well, thanks for asking) is about a writer who ditches a novel he has been working on for several years. His characters approach him in reality with the purpose of encouraging to finish his novel in order to complete their story. Because without their story, the characters, who apparently really do exist, will be forgotten and eventually die.

In my novel, the universe simply can’t handle souls with no story. Thank goodness we have one.

write-like-your-characters-really-exist-tea-with-tumnus

Usually, I outline and plot like crazy before I start working on a book. But most of my story ideas come to me while I’m in the process of actually writing and not prepping. Which, in the long run, helps quite a bit as actually typing out words fuels my inspiration, but it makes prepping a nightmare (thus I’ve dubbed myself a hardcore planster). Four days into NaNoWriMo, I wasn’t exactly sure where I was going with this brand new novel, so I just kept writing what I knew and stuck to what I’d prepped beforehand. The day after that, however, my fingers flew, giving me 2,000 words in an hour because I had discovered precious treasure. And I’m sharing a little of what I’ve uncovered here because I doubt this novel will ever get published and this precious little discovery is an underlying message that I would like to share with my current audience of readers. It was hiding in my story and I’ll admit, I wasn’t the one who came up with it.

A fellow writer friend and I were discussing my plot, and my friend lamented on how there are so many people with wonderful, unique ideas, but who tell themselves that they don’t have the time, the necessities, or the skill. And so these wonderful ideas go to waste while the world needs to hear each of their stories. The large majority of these potential writers never get their ideas down and it’s a sad predicament that I wish there was a way of fixing.

 

I incorporate this problem into my story. I just started writing and the characters told me what to say. Ficino, the main character (the writer) early on at this point in the story is feeling disoriented and overwhelmed at seeing his characters for the first time (I know I’d be too pleasantly surprised to think straight) and doesn’t understand the deepness of what they’re trying to communicate to him …

If Ficino doesn’t start writing his novel again, they’ll die. There are so many characters just like them who were created by a writer with a story to go with, and then their writer forgot them, causing them to become lost souls. It’s not actual death, but it’s as bad as death (thus calling it “dying”). The saddest part is that these characters’ creators don’t believe they exist and slap the word “fictional” on their very existence, and so they have no problem in throwing them away along with their story ideas.

“You have decided to ditch us for the stupidest reason I’ve ever known. Come on, man up, Ficino, you’re a WRITER. You found us, made friends with us through the words you wrote, came up with our story, and then you abandon us. We have no life if you just give up.”

-Character #2 from Fiction’s Lie

Ficino’s characters press on, talking about their experiences in witnessing thousands of other characters who die because their writers stopped writing their story. Some even try to write the story, taking the responsibility from their writer, and result in being sucked into limbo, a subatomic pit somewhere in the unknown darkness. Most characters try to alert their writer through thoughts connected with each of their minds (for that is how they were originally created), but to no avail. Ficino’s characters, however, are unique in that they have decided to break this cylce in which writers think their characters don’t exist by appearing physically in Ficino’s world of reality and warning him of these things. They ask him to keep writing his book.

 

Transitioning from my novel to reality, there are so many potential writers out there, but because they don’t believe in themselves, none of their work gets done. All the wonderful, brilliant ideas that are unique of each of them gets thrown away, and it’s a waste of skill, ingenuity and self confidence. The ability to make the world a better place with words not put to use.

“Look. Ficino. All we’re asking of you is to finish your novel. Write your story. We need it. The world needs it.” He opened his eyes. “You need it.”

-Character #1 from Fiction’s Lie

Maybe you’re reading this and you’re a natural storyteller. You have too many stories inside your head but there’s no time and space to write time down. Well I’m telling you now: Write those stories down. Don’t throw them away, don’t forget them. Because you’re a writer, even though you may have never thought of yourself as one. If you think “writers” are people who publish best-sellers, you’re only partially right and mostly wrong. Writers are people who love the crazy concepts, beautiful words, wonderful stories, thought-provoking legends or ideas and they take time out of their day to make sure they write their own. Why? Because it’s their passion, they enjoyment, even if their story doesn’t make it to the first line of bookshelves in Barnes & Noble. I’m asking you, even if you’ve never written before, to try it. Write a little each day. And if you don’t like it, you don’t like it, but you’re never going to know if you don’t try first, right? Let your ideas flow …

Believing that your characters actually exist is one thing. But I do know that they only start to exist in your story, but when you share that story with others, they come alive inside the imagination of your readers. And that’s just about as close to real-life as you can get them. But don’t stop writing your stories … just in case your characters depend on it. Write for your characters. Write like they really exist, outside of your imagination.

Thoughts, questions, disagreements, ideas welcome. Cheers!

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11 thoughts on “Write Like Your Characters Really Exist

  1. Great advice, Susannah! I’m really intrigued by your NaNoWriMo project, and your post only makes me want to read it more. It sounds like you have a lot of really interesting concepts to discuss.

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  2. Wow! this novel sounds amazing! It looks like a very unique novel and book (In a good way) sort of like inside out? anyway, it sounds very intriguing. Keep up the good work! and don’t let the novel die! lol.

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    • Thanks! I love creating unique ideas and incorporating them in my stories. I’ve never thought about it being similar to Inside Out, but now that I think of it, it does! (And I’m not sure who Rey is … I’d rather wait and see than have my theories be ruined when I do find out. :D)

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  3. Who do you think Rey is? Could she be a Skywalker, or a Kenobi, or maybe even a binks? Let me know your personal theory in the comments below. Don’t worry, I won’t go Kylo Ren on you and throw a temper tantrum if your theory is different than mine.

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  4. I wrote a 55k word rough draft of a story before starti ng a total rewrite with different settings and characters. This post made me smile because I have often thought about my original characters sitting in limbo. I even felt a little guilty for changing characters because I felt like I was betraying them! However I plan to incorporate their world into the new one so it’s okay, right? XD

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    • It’s interesting to hear from someone who feels that way about their characters! Lol. Incorporating their world in your new story is a good idea. Might I suggest you slip in those old characters as very minor roles in different scenes to cancel out your feelings of betrayel. 😀

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