I awaken from dreams that inhabit the worlds that exist inside books, especially my own books. More surprising, my partner also dreams in those worlds. He tells me that this is what makes a book real – when that book becomes ‘my world’ and the characters become ‘my friends’ it is a shared place. My created characters are not just mine any longer, as if they ever were. In the beginning, that may have been true. When I first created a character sketch, it was as if the character was a flat construct. Then they got some color and form and not long after that, there they are – standing up and walking around as if they were as real as a living person. As they grow and change, it seems the characters take on a life of their own. They start telling me what is going to happen next in their world and in their story.
It can be a bit unexpected the first time it happens; now that I am accustomed to characters talking in my dreams, it doesn’t startle me so much. It feels a bit like we authors collaborate and play with the shape and meaning of the places we create and the characters who inhabit them.
Our task is to tell stories that capture the moments and transitions that occur. However, it isn’t always clear what is going to happen in a given scene. You set up the circumstances, drop the characters in and watch or feel what happens. Soon enough, either the situation changes to suit the characters, or the fictional beings turn around and let you know what they would really say or do. Often what you thought was the point of the scene morphs and changes to bring out a different nuance. Sometimes it is even a major plot point, or a new person arrives in the scene as if they had been waiting in the wings, ready to walk on stage. I love that part of storytelling.
As an avid reader, I love books that draw me in. The stories that allow me to put myself into the world and feel like part of me lives there, that the characters are my friends, those are the stories I return to again and again. I hope to be able to build some of that into the stories I write. My characters are demanding their voices, and more stories and that’s a good place to begin.