They Just Show Up

Yeah, I know, writing about writing is probably one of the most boring things a writer can do, but I ran headlong into an odd little phenomenon this morning and wondered what others thought of it: the unplanned character.

This is someone who pops up in the middle of a paragraph, unanticipated, unexpected, but who, at that moment, takes on great weight. In this morning’s case, it was someone named Sawyer, who was born when Aaron, geek protagonist of The Cryman (one of my Opus Incompletus. See Coming Soon), was reflecting on ‘coolness.’ Sawyer, the epitome of all things cool, is suddenly there. And, immediately, I saw how very important Sawyer was to the rest of the story.

Before that moment, I’d never even heard of him.

Yes, I know, there is something slightly psychotic about giving life and breath to people who live inside your head and, yes, practically all writers are just one random thought away from electroshock therapy but, seriously, how does someone just show up like that? And take over? Especially since I’m one of those writers who sees the entire story from beginning to end, so Sawyer shouldn’t be there.

And I’d dismiss the whole thing as a singularity, except it’s happened before—in Frank Vaughn, Mr. and Mrs. Joel; in Partholon, the Ankh; in The Ship to Look for God, Ferdinand (and if I could get an agent to give Frank and Ship [Frankandship, a Mary Shelley creation] more than a dismissive glance, you’d know who those people are. The Ankh, you’ll get to know him soon).

Yeah, I know, seek professional help.

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8 Responses to They Just Show Up

  1. Falcon says:

    Ah, but you presume you’re writing your characters. Maybe your characters are writing you, and Sawyer was there long before you were. You just weren’t developed enough to be aware of him. (Pass the electrodes, please)

    • admin says:

      Oh cool, the butterfly dreaming he’s a man. And, wouldn’t you know, I’ve a post about dreaming up above. You are the mistress of segue, Falcon. And I don’t mean a pretentious scooter, either.

  2. Cat Connor says:

    I obviously can’t pass judgment on your sanity or lack there of… all my characters tend to arrive unexpectedly and fully formed. Sometimes when I think one is only here for a short time, they decide to stay and I cannot get rid of them. (Now that’s annoying.) Characters are people too. 🙂

    • admin says:

      That they become people is what I find a bit disturbing. And thrilling.

      • Cat Connor says:

        They are people. Maybe they always were… maybe its not insanity but an ability to see what others can’t. [insert twilight zone music here]

        • admin says:

          Yes, maybe that’s it. What do you guys think? I don’t know, I think you’re nuts. What’s the other guy think? It takes the lotion from the basket…Best leave him alone for now.

  3. J H bogran says:

    Been there. Done that. Got the character to prove it.

    I catalogue them in the “Where the heck did you come from?” folder.