If you’re ready to enter the mind of someone who hears voices, come on in. I became a writer when characters started telling me their stories. In meeting with other writers I’ve learned I”m not alone. We sometimes argue with the voices and often have to fight so they won’t take over.
Good writing teachers will tell you you’re in charge. They will say it’s your story and your characters. They aren’t real. They have no power. Well, I’m here to tell you they keep me awake when I want to sleep. They invade my time, waking and sleeping.
Okay, so, the writing teachers are right. Technically. After you’ve been interrupted and you’re exhausted from listening to these people who aren’t real, you can choose to write them right out of the story. But please, before you do, take the time to consider what they are saying. Sometimes your characters know that they would never be caught dead in that suit, or that they just wouldn’t say what you’re trying to make them say. Characters have to feel real to the reader. That means they need to feel real to you. All of them. Even the bad ones.
Imagine what it’s like to live with someone who’s always plotting murder! One day, my best friend and I, along with our spouses, were walking in the city park for exercise. They were a few paces ahead of my friend and I and we were discussing a problem with the latest work in progress (WIP). We knew the girl in the story couldn’t get married if her dad was alive because he wouldn’t allow it.
The story was an historical, you see, and the dad was all alone in the world, except for his young daughter. So as we walked along it occurred to us that the old man had to die. When we began to plot his death, other people in the park took notice and our spouses abruptly walked a little faster and both at the same time said, “We’re not with them.”
While you might think writers are terribly strange people who talk to imaginary friends, I submit to you that, at least we have a viable, legal, harmless outlet for our anxieties. Can you say the same?