Thursday, November 11, 2010

Does This Happen to You?

By Cheri Chesley

I posted on Writing Fortress this week about my well of ideas never running dry. In fact, there’s never a time when I don’t know something I could be writing about. It’s daunting, since I have no idea how I will ever make the time to get them all out of my head.

That’s not to say everything I write is for publication. I had to write some things to purge my soul—others are so atrocious they’ll never see the light of day. But, once I write them down, they release my mind. And I can be free to work on the next thing.

Here’s the best example of what I mean: In 2007 I was certain I had the perfect book. I submitted said book to a publisher. But while waiting for a response, something odd happened. One particular character would not leave me alone. He was with me in my dreams, in my waking hours, always demanding that his story be told. He’s the villain. And he was upset that I had chosen to end the story with him losing out on what he’d wanted.

Silly me, I tried to reason with him. In my mind. Yeah, I know it sounds crazy. Finally I sat down to tweak the ending of the book. I barely got it finished before hearing back from the publisher. They accepted it! Hooray! (BTW, they never got around to working on my book and offered me a contract release in 2008, which I accepted. And I’m so glad I did.)

Still, this character was not satisfied. Finally, utterly at a loss, I sat down and wrote an alternate ending to my story. Seriously. In it the bad guy wins, he gets the one thing he prizes above all else, and I wrote him into old age. At last, the voice in my head quieted. I’d done it.

I don’t ever plan on putting that alternate ending anywhere but on my flash drive. I guess you can say it’s something I did entirely for myself. Because I wanted peace.

So, what do you guys to when your characters don’t leave you alone? Or is this just something that happens to me? :)


kbrebes said...

Plots come to me, not characters, so I'm envious of you, Cheri. But then, I'm a newbie. So, maybe in years to come as I learn more about characterization--or just write lots more characters--this skill will develop for me. For now, I love hearing about your creative, imaginative process! Congrats on the book! Now I REALLY want to read it!

Michael Knudsen said...

I usually just tell them to "get a life" and they go bother some other writer. Seriously, for me it's emotions that come first, then characters, then plots. The seed of a story for me is in a feeling.

Elizabeth Mueller said...

LOL! You're so cute, Cheri.

I can't say that I've had that happen to me exactly, but I think it's hilarious.

I wonder what he wanted? What book is it you're referring to?

~Elizabeth :)

Emma Louise Penrod said...

Perhaps I'm strange in that I often have settings come to me first. The characters come later. Then, eventually, a character will decide to make him or herself a nuisance.