Storyteller: Listening to My Characters!

writing, storyteller, characters, novel, short story, thoughts, observations, ideas,
You may think you know your characters, but leave the door open for them to surprise you!

… Hail, hail, the gang’s all here!

The characters in a story, that is. I use to think that meant the time had come for me to put on my ‘director’s cap’, to step into the role of leading said characters around the world they inhabit, tell them what to say, how to feel, and on and on.

I don’t feel that way any longer.

Why?

Well, as I build two of my current stories (I refrain from calling them ‘novels’ until such time as they ARE.), there is a sense what the characters in both stories need from me is to simply observe them moving, living, emoting, conversing through their world. If I allow myself to just observe and then report the things I see, hear, taste, then the story and the characters will do all the rest. (well, not ALL the rest… edit!)

I suppose this is the very definition of ‘rewrite’, the reason they exist, and why I choose not to limit myself to say one or two rewrites then call it a day on the matter.

I came across a concept concerning rewrites I find myself exploring more and more. (I’d love to know who said it first – it wasn’t me- so if you did, props!) The initial writing of any story is akin to an archaeologist uncovering the bones of some ancient, long buried animal. At first, they are simply bones, not much can be told about them until further investigation ensues. Once it does, then all the real data begins to surface – stone-cold evidence about the critter that had previously been unknown by the science- type dude!

This concept sits well with my brain. I’m finding that as I began the search, the uncovering on both my current nov- ahem, stories, I could be content with ‘surface data’. I could feel OK about not having too much meat on the bones, or any of the other stuff that well, you know makes that T-Rex get up off the ground, solid and whole, give a tremendous ROAR, before marching into a downtown Starbucks’s for a pumpkin latte.

In following this particular pathway to fleshing out (!) my stories, I also find myself wanting to make more time for the process to unfold. I’m not one to say, ‘it needs to be x number of hours or minutes’ or the story will fall apart. I’m simply convinced that showing up, trusting those characters to ‘show me the story’, is going to uncover a wealth of imagery, emotion, dialog – MEAT, as it were, than if I tried to assume the director’s position, telling the characters what to do!

K’lee L. © 2014

4 thoughts on “Storyteller: Listening to My Characters!

    1. I find it ironic that little by little, I am distancing myself, the ‘me’ who feel the need to direct and bend the story to my will, and bringing in the ‘scribe’ me who is there to record the facts only! The results I’ve been getting in following this have been very enlightening and substantial… who knew?

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        1. For me, it can be almost a scary thing! Relinquishing that control means fully investing and believing in the character’s ability to move and evolve the story and character… I’m learning to love it!

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