Laughter and books make life a little easier

The voices are back. Excellent.

Are you ready for our bi-weekly conversation about writing? I sure am, though I’m not sure where I’m going with this post. Let’s just start and see what happens, eh?

Character conversation

This post features three things: something awesome, something annoying and something problematic. (I sound like John Green.) 😛

First, something awesome. When I was in class on Monday I suddenly realised that I hadn’t been paying attention for at least five minutes because I’d been listening to the conversation going on in my head. It’s been a long time since this has last happened. Obviously it only happens when I’m actively writing a novel, yet it didn’t happen during the last NaNoWriMo. I believe that novel was planned out too well – after all, I’d first started the story when I was about 15. I didn’t get very far, but I had the basic plot arch down. So when I restarted this story, I knew where everything was going too well. There were no voices to talk to me, because they had all already been tied down on the page.

This time round, I have a vague idea, but the characters haven’t been with me for years and they aren’t settled yet. I keep changing my mind about everything about 50 times as well, so that adds further confusion. The point being, I think this story works. The characters have grown strong enough to talk to me on their own. They have become insistent enough that I should write their story that they interrupt my attention when I’m supposed to be listening in class. I guess this means I don’t have writer’s block. After all, I’ve often seen that defined as when your imaginary voices won’t talk to you, so if they are this talkative I don’t have a block and I should make use of this opportunity. After all… it can’t last…

How about you? Do your characters talk to you?

Second, something annoying. I believe in listening to the right music when developing characters. If I’m still undecided about their exact personalities, the music I’m listening to must suit their persona. I used to build my own playlists, but I’ve proved to be horrible at it. I just don’t have the ear. Or the wide range in music required for such an exercise. So now I just use internet radio. It’s so much easier to specific what I want to listen to.

Or what I need to listen to, as it may be… I do not always like my characters’ taste in music. (Most of my friends in high school listened to Linkin Park, but I’ve never much liked their “voice”. I prefer something different, as demonstrated below.)

A conversation I had with my character. (If you are also a writer, you’ll know this is completely normal and that I do not have multiple personalities or delusions.)

Me: I hope you appreciate what I’m doing for me. I’m listening to Linkin Park, all just for you.

Character: No, I don’t appreciate it! Linkin Park is awesome, don’t you dare diss them!

Me: It’s great that you’ve developed enough into a person to have a music taste of your own, but couldn’t you develop a taste for Coldplay or Florence and the Machine?

Character: No, because Coldplay is for wimps like you. I’m way too hardcore to listen to Chris Martin. Ooh, is that heavy metal that I see there?

Me: Hey, hey, who is dissing whose taste in music now?

Character: Me. I’m doing that. I’m brash and rude and unsympathetic and impatient.

Me: Why did I even create you again!?

Character: Because you needed a snarky narrator.

Me: Oh yes. But we’re going to have to do something about your music taste.

I have a character who is one huge handful there…

I think this is one of the truest things I have ever seen. Well, it might just be late, but right now, that is how I feel.

Thirdly, something problematic. I am entirely dependant on baby name websites to find names for my characters. And surnames I tend to pick out of random “lists of surnames”. Why is this the hardest part of writing ever? The name must be right for the character: it must sound right. It must suit the character. Sometimes it should have hidden or ironic meaning. This all sounds simple. Then why is it so hard?! I felt better about this problem the day I found out Enid Blyton used to flip through the telephone directory to find surnames for her characters because she could never think of any. It doesn’t solve the problem though…

Of course, after I finally decide on a name and surname combination, I have to google it to make sure I didn’t subconsciously choose the name of someone well-known. (This happens more often than you would think.) If I find that this has regrettably happened, it’s back the list to look up more names. This wastes so much time. Names, I could be writing! Stop wasting my time!

Besides wasting time on names, I have also wasted more time than necessary on this post. So… until next week, when we will continue to waste more time. 🙂


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