The Persistent Character by Raina Schell
If you’re a writer I have no doubt you’ve met the character inside your head who won’t shut up.
One day, maybe a year ago, I downloaded one such character. For the purpose of this blog I’ll name him Apollo, because that’s one persistent God, but the character could be anything or anyone. Apollo showed up one afternoon when I was quite literally doing something else entirely. In the spirit of full disclosure I was on Facebook and as often happens on Facebook I read something that annoyed me. But before I could process what I’d read Apollo was there, in my head and he was loud. There was no whispering or tickling. No “Hi how are you?” Or “Let’s get to know one another.” No hand holding, no first date… just wham bam thank you ma’am. He hit me hard that day. I had to open a word document and download him then and there. When I was finished, I read what I’d written and could scarcely believe it. It wasn’t written in the genre I write. It wasn’t using the voice I write in. It wasn’t my style at all. And best of all, it was hysterical. I showed it to my then boyfriend who was very tight on the writing compliments. He pronounced it brilliant and told me to copyright it immediately. I did the “poor man’s copyright” thing with it and then set it on the back burner.
Throughout the past year Apollo has interjected his thoughts on occasion, made his presence known periodically and there have even been one or two moments when I may have felt him physically jabbing me in the ribcage. The problem was that I didn’t have a vehicle in which to write a story starring him. On the occasions when he blew in my ear, ostensibly by making a large building crash in front of me, I would spend hours trying to figure out a plot for him. One time I went so far as to outline an idea in scrivener for a few hours but I knew it wasn’t right. Every time I tried to forget about him, he came back, like after you eat a garlic anchovy pizza.
The other day I was sitting at a writing group, working on another novel when someone in the group said something that stuck with me, also reminiscent of that pizza. I went back to that comment a couple of times later that evening (whilst alone) when suddenly there was Apollo and he had something to say about it, something that included a plot and another protagonist. I was forced to listen, forced to write it down and now Apollo has his very own series in the making. Finally!
That’s how it works sometimes. A character is born, inside your head. They fight, kicking and screaming to get onto the page. You have no choice but to listen to them and do as they say, it’s almost like being held hostage until you do. Happily, I’m here to report that the process can be as simple as letting it unfold organically instead of forcing it – however long it takes. And no, we’re not crazy.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Raina Schell is a vagabond. She lives where the tide takes her. The only constant in her life is her trusty laptop. She doesn’t live in a tidy little house. Her dreams aren’t surrounded by a white picket fence. She has no family but spends her free time with a black and white bunny rabbit named Fred.
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