Wednesday, May 25, 2011

When You Are the Character

Recently, I was chatting with my husband while I worked on a book. My male character was extremely forthright and had no problem speaking his mind quite frankly. Yes, including certain words that have come to be expected in erotic romance. Not every book I write has those words and not every character I write says them. I’ve always believed in time and place.

But this one character in particular used them quite frequently without any trouble at all. In fact, it wasn’t a conscious decision to use a particular word (let’s just say it rhymes with ‘punt) in this story the first time. I’d worked along, trying to block out noise around me at the time, which made me focus more. The next day, when I read over what I’d written, I actually stopped and asked myself “Where did that come from?” It worked for the character and the situation. In fact, it worked a lot more places as I discovered it fit the character to use the word. I’d told my husband that I had found I had a little trouble dealing with it and he said that made no sense. After I’d stared at him for a few minutes because I had no idea what he meant, I asked him why.

His response? “You are the character.”
Again, a few moments of silence for me while I processed what he said. I immediately protested and said I’m nothing like this character. He’s brash and rough around the edges. I’ll use foul language at times, but never to the extent of this character. I’m nothing like him. Which my husband pointed out wasn’t the truth.

“You created him. He’s a piece of you. Maybe not a piece that you realize, but he’s there.”

Huh. I never thought of it that way. What he says makes sense, if you think about it. As authors, we create something from nothing. We pull in slices of life all around us and create emotional characters and situations in order to tell a story. At times, doing so, we can let down our hair and let a side of us show that we’d normally keep locked away from the rest of the world.


Maureen said...

Ah, one of my favorite words... I like strong words for male and female parts. Strenght to strength. I'm also one for reclaiming words that have been painted with bad energy.

Now, as for I am my characters? Oh, girlfriend, you bet! All of them!

Though now and then a character is an in-law.

Barbara Elsborg said...

Am I my characters? Oh yes. All of the women for sure!!! Less certain about the men - they're part of me in a different way!

I struggle with the c word though!

Jessica E. Subject said...

Oh, very true Sara! They are all a part of us as wee created them, but like our children, they also have their own personality.

If only I could get my hubby to understand that. :)

Liia Ann White said...

Well, well, isn't your husband just a little bit wise?
I think all writers are a little bit tapped in the head, with multiple voices and personalities kept up in there.

I'm quite comfortable using that word now. I used to HATE it. But I think hearing it on a daily basis from foul mouthed brothers has desensitised me ;-)

a traditional housewife against the world said...

Very insightful of your husband. I guess that makes sense, though. Every character has a little bit of us infused into them, so it would only make sense that even the naughty parts were some part of our subconscious!

Great piece!

JM said...

Wow! It's a good thing my husband doesn't read my stuff, because he'd never look at me the same way again. ;-))))
Great post!

Becca Dale said...

True - I think my characters are the me I would be if I were bold and brave and beautiful and...but I still swear they say and do things that I would never think of.

P. Kirby said...

Yep. I'm in my character's heads and they are in mine. Say hello to my multiple personalities.

Funny how characters seem to acquire a life of their own.

kathleen said...

Great post, Sara! Our characters live within us, and our sometimes sweet, sexy, naughty, maybe even crazy worlds