Monday, April 19, 2010

When Characters Pop In My Head

So...I'm supposed to be working on finishing up the partial my agent submitted a few weeks ago. It's a story that I really like, with characters that I can see having fun and growing. It's the first of a series, so I feel like there are a lot of opportunities.

But I've got this nagging character from another story chirping in my ear. I'm pretty sure she's the same one that's hanging around in a women's fiction manuscript I started, but haven't finished. She's been bothering me big time lately. So much so that I sat down and wrote a page for her. She's quieted now for the moment, but I know she'll be back.

They always come back.

I know this sounds like I'm crazy. But if you're a writer, I'm sure this doesn't sound any different than what goes on in your head - at least I hope it doesn't sound any different! If it is, someone call the white-jacketed men so they can take me away!!

What do you do to calm those pesky characters who want to be heard now, who don't want to wait? Do you write a bit? Do you outline their story? Do you take notes and then get back to your current wip? Or do you ignore them all together?

I know this chick is not going to leave. I've been thinking about her story off and on, knowing that I needed to return to it at some point. I've put about 25k down in words for that story, and I don't want the time I spent on it to go to waste.

What do I tell her? I've given her a new beginning, and she's happy for now. But that won't last long. Sooner or later, I know I'll cave and get back to her, even though I've told my agent that I want to write MG now. Guess I can't help my women's fiction roots.


Mary said...

Great post. I have a really hard time starting a new story if I haven't finished the old one. Even when I new characters chirping at me.

So when my agent (we both know who) says to work on a partial before I've finished something it's major change for me.

Good luck!

Cassy Pickard said...

I had to laugh at your post. My husband turns the TV on first thing in the morning. He puts a CD in as soon as he returns home. My house, when I'm alone, is totally silent. Of course, there are two Golden Retrievers who do add to the noise factor. But, I am silent. No music, no distraction. The reason is exactly as you have described. My characters are so busy talking with me I can't talk any more disruption. My head is a virtual Grand Central Station. Maybe we have a new psychological diagnosis just waiting to be named.

Gin said...

I've mentioned this recently on another blog, but while writing Murder Creek, I wrote a scene I wasn't happy with. We've all done it. I figured I'd tweak it in edits.

Now, I always thought the whole "my characters talk to me" bit was BS. So when I was in the shower and *heard* a brooklyn-esque voice say "There's no way I'd let that sh*t slide", in reference to the dialog of the scene I didn't much like, I laughed out loud. I knew I heard a ticked off Grey who was just disgusted at me for not writing him properly.

I went right back to the scene and rewrote it channeling him. I even made myself laugh.

I try not to silence my characters lest they get annoyed and move on. I feel like once I stop listening, they stop talking. If I'm in the middle of another WIP, I take a few minutes and jot down some notes so I don't lose momentum on the WIP nor do I lose the other characters whispers.

Fun blog, Kris!

Anita Clenney said...

Like Cassy, I need silence. There are already too many people in my head :)

Unknown said...

Thanks for the comments, ladies. I've been MIA with work and family, but I do appreciate you stopping by. I'm glad I'm not the only one who "hears" her characters. I'm praying that they never stop talking to me!