I can see the nods and hear the screams of Noooo! You Stupid woman! all the way down here in New Zealand. I’ve read interviews with writers who have been asked this question and the answers have been really interesting. Some have said no, how can a character write his or herself? – the writer does the writing. But a whole lot more have said Absolutely, and that when it happens – it’s GREAT!!
It’s happened for me and when it does, I know these characters are going to take off with me running along behind them (well, my fingers running along behind them) trying to get the dialogue onto the page. I hang out for it, I want it, and if it doesn’t happen I DON’T LIKE IT. If I don’t hear/get these people, how the hell can I expect a reader to hear or get them? There are drawbacks. Sometimes they won’t shut up. Sometimes they won’t let me go to sleep. Sometimes I hear them bickering inside my head when I should be paying attention at work meetings. Fortunately, I haven’t answered them back yet.
The characters in my last book, Knotted, were so real and threw so many smart one liners at each other, I had to cut out reams of dialogue or I’d have ended up turning in something the size of War And Peace and given my publisher a heart attack. Not a good idea because I want them to publish more of my books. Two of my favourite characters are Sugar Beth Carey and Colin Byrne in Susan Elizabeth Phillips Ain’t She Sweet? Again, it’s the dialogue between the characters which makes them so real and so wonderful to listen in to.
So here’s my question for all you writers:- Do Your Characters Write Themselves? Or is it all down to you? Fess Up!
And readers – think of those characters that were so real you couldn’t get them out of your head after you’d finished the book – Who were your favourite characters and what was the book? And what was it about them that made them so real and memorable?