So, I thought I was a writer . . . or becoming one, anyway. I was going to create characters and make them do things the way I wanted. Obviously I didn’t know much about writing yet.
Why do I say that?
Because your characters often do as they please. But, even more surprisingly, they can put themselves in the story when you had no such intention. In fact, you did not even know of their existence, and you most certainly didn’t ‘think them up’. Well, that was my weird experience. Especially with Jacques . . .
I was tinkering away on the opening chapters of my new book Seven Seconds, when someone kept tapping my shoulder, creatively speaking, that is. “I wanna be in your book,” he said. I wasn’t freaked out, because strange things happen in the psyche when you decide to go on the Imagine Journey. I knew I couldn’t put him in the book, because I had three characters who were going to be trapped in a falling lift, dash through a time travel portal, and then spend most of the book in Jerusalem AD 33. So what on earth was I going to do with the tall, middle-aged fellow called Jacques? Nope, no room for him at this inn.
But he continued. The nagging became begging, crying even, and there is nothing more pitiful than a middle-aged begging man. I even heard “I don’t have a job. Please, please let me be in your book. I’ll be the night watchman of the hotel, if you want. I’ll do anything.”
Characters are smart, and Jacques is uber smart. I fell for the night watchman idea. After all, the hotel is basically a derelict building where a bunch of revellers are going to party-in 2015.
But the minute I signed him up as the night watchman for The Presidential Hotel in Seven Seconds–and I could see exactly how he was going to form an important behind the scenes character–he came with a problem. His daughter was having a baby on the evening in question, and he had to bring his five year old grandson to work. Yep, otherwise he couldn’t be in the book. He was the first person I ever employed, and he came with a lot of nonsense.
If you think I’m crazy, join the club. I’m chairman of the club. None of this happened in any way, shape or form in reality. It was all a very real figment of my imagination.
So what is our imagination actually?
Where do these characters come from?
And what makes them act intelligently apart from us?
I let Jacques have his way, and he brought Sam, the kid. Not only did Jacques endear himself and Sam to me in a few pages, and make me cry (yeah, crazy, I know), but in a flash I had the title and full story for the sequel, Asiam Soru.
I am not a very experienced (read published! writer), but I can give you one bit of advice: listen to your characters, they may know something you don’t. After all, they live in the place of make believe, where time stands still just because you closed the book, and can jump centuries with a turn of the page. Those characters live there, so surely they have some inside information that may be helpful to you.
The three questions posed above? I would appreciate your thoughts.