Wednesday, 4 December 2013

IWSG: I'm being haunted by my character

It's the first Wednesday of the month, so it's time for December's IWSG post. To find out more about this amazing group, and to sign up, check our the website here.

Here's the truth: I get haunted by some of the characters I write about - they creep into my head and won't leave, even after I've stopped writing about them.

Dark characters, emotionally-wrought characters. I get weighed down with their problems and their thoughts until it's hard for me to remember they are not real. I dream about them, indeed I dream as though I am them. When I'm writing an upsetting scene I can find myself dragged down even when I'm on my way to work. 

It's not altogether a bad thing, it means I can really empathise, which is a good thing for a writer, right?

In my soon-to-be-edited-again novel, I have a character who disappears into the walls (literally/figuratively - that's the reader's call), and I actually found myself trying to do the exact same thing - in awkward situations I'd find myself creeping closer and closer to the wall, pretending I wasn't there!

Sometimes, I find it hard to come back to being just me.

Of course, this wouldn't be a problem if I wrote about happy, playful, beautiful, confident people... I'll have to try that one day!

Do you ever find yourself being taken over by your characters?
Is this a good thing, a bad thing or a distraction?


48 comments:

  1. Yay! I'm glad it's fixed now. I can definitely relate to being haunted by emotionally troubled characters. (I tend to stay away from writing supernatural but I can imagine that would be even worse!) I think it's a good thing--being haunted helps us write characters readers can connect with.

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    1. Those supernatural beasties would definitely be a challenge!

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  2. Boy, do I understand that. The narrator of my book has taken up permanent residence in my brain. That's why he became my muse. But he's fun to have around. Also--and call me crazy if you want--he's a bit of a sociopath who never cries, so if I feel myself tearing up and I just think his name, the tears pull back. So I like to think he helps me. Yeah, I'm a little weird.

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    1. Whatever works for you can't be that weird... a little bit weird though, yes it's definitely a little bit weird ;-)

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  3. I know! Why can't we write about rich and glamorous people once in awhile? :)

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    1. That would be brilliant, but I'm sure I wouldn't have a clue of those types of people.

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  4. It must be a good thing; it means your readers will probably feel the same way.

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  5. I know exactly what you mean! I feel like I'm manic sometimes with how my moods can change when I'm writing. Even scarier when I start empathizing with the villains!

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    1. Those poor villains, sometimes they're just misunderstood!! :-)

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  6. I get that all the time - sometimes I wish I wrote more cheerful books! :P But if I get an emotional response from writing, I hope it means it'll have the same effect on the reader!

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    1. I wish I could write more cheerful stuff too, but only sometimes. I'm drawn towards the dark side too much.

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  7. That's because you write such awesomely creepy characters! And I love your wall-hider. She's definitely interesting!

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    1. Thank you so much, Rachel :-) Hopefully my wall-hider will be out in the open sometime in 2014.

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  8. Thank god none of my characters haunt me. They just trouble me until I write their story.

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    1. That sounds much more civilised, characters that have respect for boundaries! :-)

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  9. Consider it a good thing - that means your characters are powerful.
    i only want to be Byron if I get to teleport.

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    1. Teleportation would be so cool! I have so many people I'd love to visit :-)

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  10. OMG. Yes. I sometimes think my characters have come to life in my head!! Argh, I'm not nuts...

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    1. No, you're definitely no more nuts than I am :-)

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  11. For as long as I can remember I have lived as much in my fantasy world as the real one. It must be difficult for my family!

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    1. Families of writers have a LOT to put up with - it's what makes us special, unique and amazing to be with :-)

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  12. As long as you don't get swallowed up by your characters then that's okay. If they're still haunting you, it means their story's not done.

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    1. I'm not sure this one will ever be fully done - she's complex!

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  13. Oh my, I totally have that! I once had this story idea about this house that was possessed and it offered its inhabitants the opportunity to sell their souls for worldly success, but they had to feed the beast in the house. I had those ideas and images in my head so deep, I was afraid to go to the basement. It's no wonder Stephen King drinks (drank...think he's sober now). Nope, I shall stick with the sweet stuff bc these characters live with me for too long!

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    1. Wow, that's a creepy idea, Elizabeth, I'm very impressed! Did you ever write it?

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  14. I agree with the others, I think this is a sign your characters are very powerful. And having read your short stories I know that is true!

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  15. Oh yes, starting with the first draft! I LOVE it when they haunt me, talk to me, direct me, make me think of something I hadn't thought of before. I think that's one of the best things about writing. Haven't gotten to the point where I can't tell their lives from mine though. But I do cry when they do, or laugh or whatever. Good post!

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    1. Thanks Lisa, it's nice to know I'm not alone!

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  16. I've heard about that happening to lots of actors, that they can't leave their characters on the set. And writers are a lot like actors in a way - we also create whole "real" people out of nothing. Try to stay out of walls, Annalisa, you're way too cute and talented to be a literal wallflower. :-)

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    1. I'd be a very confused actor! I'll definitely try and stay away from the walls, thanks Lexa, what an awesome thing to say :-)

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  17. Wow that sounds intense, I have characters that nag me and taunt me. I cried when I killed a favourite character off. I guess it shows we can get inside their heads and make then real.

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    1. Killing characters is very harsh, especially if you like them - I'm not surprised you cried!

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  18. I feel your pain. Usually when i start writing a novel, the characters stay with me till I finish and then miraculously they leave. But I hope your characters give you some space, with all their problems and all that...Wishing you the best.

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    1. This characters has been with me for 7 years - I put her on a shelf for most of that time, but she's been calling out louder and louder. And now it really does feel as though she's taking over :-/

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  19. I find myself thinking about my characters at random times. One in particular seems to be mirroring me a bit in her characterization. Perhaps a little cheap therapy. :)

    I'm sorry your character is trying to take you into the walls. Dreaming up new characters may be just the trick. Now, the challenge will be finding ones you want to morph in to. :)

    Great IWSG post!

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    1. There's a bit of me in all my characters, but they've never fully become me, which is probably a good thing! I have another character who I'm hoping will be helpful, but you never know, do you? They might just be another problem!!

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  20. I think it's wonderful that you eat, breathe and sleep your writing, Annalisa. It shows what a natural writer you are. If they start entering nightmares, though, I suggest you kill them off.

    xoRobyn

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    1. I don't need any encouragement to kill off my characters - it's having them alive at the end of the story that's hard for me :-)

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  21. Hi Annalisa .. sounds like you're really telling their story - and JL's comment 'that if they're still haunting you - your story is not done' .. sounds true to me - but hauntingly so .. I've always wondered about ghosts being around - I'm sure they are ... cheers Hilary

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    1. Perhaps it would be easier if I stuck to ghost stories - now that's a fascinating waste of a day, searching for ghosts on Google!

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  22. I've never dreamed as one of my characters, but they do become very real. There's one in particular I feel I know so well and she is being very patient (although that isn't really in her nature!) as I keep starting and then re-starting the novel she belongs in!

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    1. I'm sure she'll wait for as long as she needs to. Good luck with the re-re-re-writes :-)

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  23. Hi Annalisa,

    I can certainly understand where you are coming from. The situation here is that Penny the Jack Russell dog and modest internet superstar created a character named Gary and he's getting out of control. So much so, I have taken the liberty of commenting.

    Penny's created character,

    Gary :)

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    1. That explains so much, imaginary Gary! I always thought Penny was the top dog :-)

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  24. Hummm, I thought I had left a comment here, but apparently not?? Anyway, wouldn't it be cool if you DID develop the same abilities as your disappearing character? Would be really useful at certain times! ha

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Please comment - I love a good chat!