Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The One In Which I Argue With My Character

by Karen Harrington, author Janeology

Me: I wish I could quit you. I hate you. I love you. I want to break up with you!

Character: Gee, that’s a bit harsh.

Me: You keep changing and morphing and making me doubt if I should continue. Plus, you just informed me that you are NOT the neighbor's boyfriend, but the neighbor's BROTHER. Do you realize how much work it will take to make that change?

Character: Well, that’s my thing. Besides, now Nathan Fillion can play me in the movie version.

Me: We should be so lucky. Well, now I want to start a new story.

Character: You’d go cheat on me with some other characters?

Me: One of the bad habits of being a writer is the love of beginnings. Everything is possible.Nothing is yet wrong with the structure.

Character: But remember all those days when I was working out really well?

Me: Yes. That was when we first met. Our chemistry was quite good then. And YOU were still the boyfriend, not the BROTHER!

Character: You're not going to let that go, are you?

Me: No! You bother me. You pop into my thoughts and give me a new problem on a Sticky Note while I'm in the school car line that has a domino effect on the ENTIRE story. Do you know how much work that takes?

Character: Well, you ignore me some days now.

Me: Do not! I open your file…

Character: And you just stare at the blinking cursor and give me nothing to say. Admit it.

Me: I do that sometimes.

Character: You type nothing on those days. You vacuum. You reorder your spice cabinet. And, I caught you watching Dr. Phil!

Me: I really just want to curse at you on those days.

Character: But remember how you stumbled upon that particular scene where I discover the girl's biggest secret while we're watching The Price Is Right? Oh! That was good.

Me: Yes, I remember. I still like that scene. That was a good day.

Character: If you don’t finish me, none of those days will happen again. And worse, no one will read me about handsome I am.

Me: But right now, this thing looks like a bunch of colored quilting squares on the floor. I have NO IDEA what color goes where or how to sew this together.

Character: You exaggerate.

Me:  It's a job requirement.

Character: This ain’t your first rodeo. You HAVE written a novel before you know.

Me: I know, but….

Character: A cake just doesn’t go make itself, does it? It’s a bunch of random ingredients on your counter and then you follow a recipe and Voila, It’s a cake!

Me: You're comparing baking to writing? Whatever!

Character: Tsk Tsk. Nobody likes a whiny novelist!

Me: (rolls eyes)

Character: Still want to quit me?

Me: I want you to be BAKED already.

Character: Well, get to work and stop scobberlotching.

Me: All right. Just promise you'll stay put as the brother now and stop changing.

Character: No can do. It's a job requirement.

Me: Argghhh!


Come say hello and distract me from writing. No really. Please distract me. 


Anonymous said...

Awesome conversation and one I'm sure most of us have had from time to time with our characters. Though the whole 'I want you baked' comment got me thinking about the scene in Buffy where she explains that she is still cookie dough and hasn't yet become cookies.
Thanks for sharing this.

A.B. Fenner said...

Very clever, and it rings so true! Our characters are like willful children who we have so little influence over. :) Thanks for the laugh!

Karen Harrington said...

Cassandra -

Thanks! I've actually heard other authors declare that they'd like their works finished and baked and I think I feel the same way.

A. B. - When they have a mind of their own, they are VERY willful. Thanks for your comment.

Dr. Mohamed said...

Don't feel alone. In the prologue to "Sweet Thursday" (the sequel to "Cannery Row"), Mack gives "the guy who wrote 'Cannery Row'" advice on titling chapters. If Steinbeck's characters can tell him off, it's bound to happen to you and me.

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