Friday, April 10, 2009

When Characters Write

Graham Greene said in "Advice to Writers":

"The moment comes when a character does or says something you hadn't thought about. At that moment he's alive and you leave it to him."

Those moments (they happen through most of my first draft writings now) are like reading my own book before it is written. That's what makes writing exciting.

In my late twenties, when I began to write fiction short stories, one of those moments happened for the first time with a character named Alex. I didn't understand how wonderful that was then and it scared me (he was a very self-assured character!). I packed up the story in a box and put it into the walk-in style attic we had in our Oakland flat. With that box, I put my writing career on hold for too many years, and when we moved, I forgot Alex in the attic.

I wonder what would happen if I started writing about him again...would he be angry with me? Would he be happy to talk with me again? Would he.....


  1. Yep! When characters come alive...It is all about letting go of the control enough to let them do it, then pulling in the reins enough to capture it well.

  2. Isn't that the best, when characters speak to you. It feels like an out of body experience, doens't it!!!?? I love when that happens...they always surprise me!