Characters in my imagination have a life, or perhaps I create it for them. Thereby giving them breath, spirit, personality, and substance. I suppose one could say I birth them from my wild imaginings. If this is so, are they truly a figment of my imagination?
The question for me has always been what to do with them next, how to make them live. I’ve struggled with this many an hour, wondering about the next step. Maybe that is why it seems I can only maintain a character for a short period of time, such as my short stories. Being as I bear the banner of the uneducated, or perhaps better described; under educated. I have no training in creative writing, or for that mater, writing of any kind. I simply push forward, putting out my best effort. I probably should at some time take a few classes, it is certainly easy enough nowadays, with the internet. For the time being though, I must continue with my current path until I manage the time and funds for such an endeavor. I learn from others who write and do have some background, by reading.
Yesterday, I was browsing the Freshly Pressed section of WordPress, something I enjoy considerably. I came across an article that made me smile with appreciation, not only for the idea it imparted, but for the creativity and passion with which it was written. It’s Alive! It’s Alive! composed at Odyssey of A Novice Writer, by Kate Loveton, did two things for me. First off, it was incredibly entertaining, and second, it opened my eyes to a character bible. I’m sure most real writers already know volumes about a character bible, but this was my introduction to the idea.
So excited was I to have learned a new idea, I haphazardly clicked a few buttons, not really paying attention, thinking I was simply leaving a comment, and reblogged her post. I thought it only polite and proper to more thoroughly describe my elation at this new discovery.
I have considered similar ideas in the past. I even created a character data base to chronicle my characters and important mile stones in their story. This was more to handle those characters who may have multiple appearances in consecutive stories or perhaps even someday novels. It didn’t dawn on me at the time, but I needed to develop their beginnings! Such a simple concept, and so very necessary to build “who they are”. Create their moral base if you will. Define how and why they are the way they are. In some ways, it feels like writing the characters story, from birth on to that point they enter my story line. I suppose that is what will actually happen once I begin the process.
My characters are vivid in my mind… Until that point I start writing my story, then they all become jumbled and mixed, fighting to coexist. I have trouble sorting out who was going to accomplish what and why that had to be. Is it possible that I have too many voices, crammed into such a small space. Each screaming and scheming for their moment in the spotlight. Perhaps creating a character bible for each, writing out their story, learning how they came to be important; will settle the rowdy crowd. Give them some peace, quiet the calamity of noise, provide the raucousness with a little organization. I am sure I can create characters who will have significance, prevalence, and a connection with my readers. Like Kate says.
There are so many examples in literature of characters who refuse to be bound between the covers of a book. No, they leap off the page and into our hearts and minds, where they continue to live on and influence us.
It is interesting to me, that when I manage to single out a voice, they guide my hand in writing a story. It’s almost as if they choose the direction and tenor of the story line. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten an idea, started writing, only to have it veer so far off the path I had planned. Sometimes it makes me question the conception, pause to review, and perhaps try to force it elsewhere. I can tell you that forcing the story never works, and for me seems to be a sure fire way to quell the voices. I’ve learned that quelling the voices is not a good thing. They have to have their freedoms and liberty to pursue the path of their choice. Don’t we all? Another excerpt from Kate’s article that seems particularly fitting right now.
I have a feeling that my characters may eventually take up the story themselves, and perhaps change the direction from what I originally conceived. Dynamic characters can do that, don’t you think? Change the flow of a story?
No, we aren’t all crazy, or in need of psychological treatment. We are writers or as in my case aspiring writers.
Now that I have a little clearer idea of what and where I need to take my “friends”. Hopefully I’ll be able to build those stories I see so clearly in my head. For now though, Chance needs a little attention. I have him from the point he meets Whitney, but I realize now that I have to write his beginnings. Give him a proper birth and raise the boy to be a man of substance, with a solid moral base. Room for him to make mistakes, and realize his own shortcomings so he can learn and improve. Yes, I realize none of you have any idea who Chance or Whitney are. Perhaps in the near future, I’ll be able to properly introduce you. This is going to be a lot of fun!