Just who’s in charge here?

Oct 25, 2014 | Writing

Probably the most interesting thing about writing is that what’s in my head rarely becomes what appears on the page.  I have a habit of laying out scenes in my head – dialog and everything – but when I go to type it out, it’s never the same as what I’ve envisioned.  I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.  I don’t even understand why that happens.  Somewhere between my head and my hands (or my head and the computer, whatever), things change.  The written scene is basically the same as the one in my head – just different.

Thinking about it now, it’s like if you imagine a conversation or encounter with someone.  You think they’ll say something specific, and mapping the encounter out in your head, you’ve decided the conversation will go in a certain direction.  But then when you actually talk to that person face-to-face, they end up saying something completely different.  Something only they could say because it came directly from them – not from you.

My head says my characters should say “X”, but when it comes down to writing the scene, the characters say “W”.  It’s as if they’re not my creations, but living entities in their own right.  And maybe they are.  Maybe what they end up saying, and how they say it, is them coming to life, fleshing themselves out, becoming their own people.  Maybe that’s how they live independent of me.

Whatever the case, it continues to surprise and delight me.  Like real children, they evolve independent of my desires for them.  I’m constantly learning to let them go and figure it out for themselves.  I’m just the hands that write everything down.  Their scribe.  Ok, maybe it’s a little more complicated than that, but lately it hasn’t felt that way.  I’ve been sitting back and letting them have their way, only piping in when they ask “what now?”, and then making a suggestion – that they invariably change to something that suits them better.  It’s fine, in fact it keeps me interested.  The story’s in good hands, I’m just along for the ride!


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