Lets get this out of the way now: I like most of the characters I’ve created. Some have been with me for years, and I know the ins and outs of their lives, I know what they want to do, what they will do, and what awaits them at the ends of their lives. I know their desires and their fears, their hates and their loves. I know what makes them tick.
I know this because I created them. They are figments of my imagination made about as whole as they can get.
Lately I’ve seen people going on about their characters, and how they “talk to them”. This is nothing new: it seems like a lot of people who write, or have written, feel their characters speak to them. No, wait: that’s not exactly right. They feel the characters are telling them what to write. They feel that the characters are pushing them in the direction they want to go. They feel the characters are the ones writing the goddamn story, and that all they’re doing is acting as the typist.
To put it in plain and simple language, that’s delusional bullshit.
Your characters are something you create, and not the other way around. While we can feel for our characters, live through out characters, suffer with them when we put them in incredibly difficult situations, it’s you who is doing all the leg work, not the character. The character lives and loves and suffers because you are the one writing the story. And when a character bites the big one, you can rest assured that when Ebola finally claims their ass and kicks that mortal coil off their shoulders, it happened because of the writer–not because the character said, “Hey, know what? I gotta hankerin ‘ to head to Africa and have sex with a disease-ridden native because I wanna know what it’s like to have my organs liquefy.”
That shit happened because of you. You killed them–and they didn’t jump in front of a bus on their one, you know?
I have spoken in my characters “voices”, tried to imaging scenes where they are all interacting with one another. I’ve said the dialog out loud, and figured out how things would progress from that point. At no time did I ever imagine that my characters were taking over my body and telling me, “No, what I want here is a fantastic lesbian sex scene with the head nurse, because . . . have you see her breasts? Oh, my!” Nope, never happened–and never will.
When I ran role playing games all the time, I used to tell my players, “Remember: I’m God. This game is my world, and your characters are my playthings.” Writing is the same thing: you own the world, and the characters as well. Characters don’t argue with gods, ’cause when they do, they get squashed. They get fed into wood chippers and turned into a mist. They have alien zygotes explode from their anuses. They meet the girl of their dreams and then get mutilated because they remind said girl of a Barbie doll they once owned.
Characters are a writer’s plaything. They are their monkey, and they dance when we clap.
Though there are some writers who have said–and I’m not making this up–that they have gotten into arguments with their characters over how their lives are going in a story . . . and that they’ve lost the argument. A person is saying they’ve lost an argument with a fiction character of their own creation, and then they want to be taken seriously as a writer. The last person to lose an argument to a fictional character was John Nash, and that was because he was a fucking schizophrenic who wasn’t in touch with reality.
You know who never talks about their characters controlling them? Professional writers. The people who do this for a living. They talk about character creation, and how to develop a point of view for your characters, but you never hear them say, “My characters tell me what to do!” I saw a vlog post last year with a few writers who answered questions about the craft, and when this subject came up it was smacked down faster than a punk telling John Cena he’s not that tough. They laughed at this mindset because they know it’s total bullshit. They know fictional characters aren’t telling the writer what to do, and as one writer said, if they are, “You need to up your meds.”
It really doesn’t matter what I think, however. Even though I’m a bit crazy, I know the difference between fiction and reality, and I deal in both rather well. Since I do, it’s easy to look at people who say, for them, that writing fiction is the same as writing a biography for their characters, which gives me the chance to sit off to the side and laugh like a loon and remake about how your fucking nuts.
Which is sort of what I’m here, aren’t I?
Oh, well . . . I can always blame this on one of my characters . . .