Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Creative? Or Just Cracked?

I overheard a very interesting conversation the other day about what writers write. As it happens, this was in my normal everyday life and not necessarily my writing life. Of course you could make the argument that since my everyday life deeply affects my writing life, they're the same thing. But since I don't generally tell people that I write, I spend most of my time incognito. By the way, this is a circular argument that I've had before, with myself, and the voices in my head. Which brings me to the meat and potatoes of the conversation I mentioned up above.

A friend of mine was lamenting her favorite author's decision to move forward and release titles from a newer series instead of continuing the threads of several possible stories in a previous one. In this case it was a contemporary vs. historical situation. Although that scenario can pretty well fit any author's list of works in progress. My friend was speculating that it must be a marketing decision by the publisher. Apparently the author under discussion had posted comments on her blog stating that she'd left one series behind for another one because the new characters were so vocal about having their stories told. My friend felt like this was a ridiculous excuse. In her mind, as a reader, she couldn't understand how any grown person could claim that they wrote only what the voices in their head told them to.

Oh if she only knew!

Psst! I hear voices too! When I'm cooking, or cleaning, or working, in my sleep, in the shower... Especially in the shower! Sometimes they're whispers, like an overheard conversation. Other times its like having someone scream in my ear.

This is an old topic of conversation. I've been asked similar questions before by my own readers. How do you decide what to write? The answer is always a little vague. Sometimes I write what I want. I look at a list of ideas that I've come up with for plot, or character, or sometimes even a setting sparks a story idea. I can look at those things and mold them into a viable piece of work that will eventually become first an outline and then a manuscript. But most of the time, my stories happen because some character starts yakking away and won't stop until he or she has said their piece.

One particularly memorable example of this phenomenon happened during the creation of my erotic Sci-Fi romance, Daggertail. You can visit my website for a story synopsis and a buy link to this book, which is one of my faves. The story almost immediately shaped up to be a series of at least four if not five books. The ideas flowed pretty easily and I made tentative plans for which book would come next and what subsequent order they'd go in. Once Daggertail was complete and we'd begun the editing process, I started having dreams about one of the other characters. From that point on, Warrick Stone took on a life of his own. In fact, he's been so vocal that the entire series has changed direction. Needless to say, his book will be up and coming soon. His wasn't the only project I had committed to and I've had a helluva time setting his aside to complete other things that really needed to be done.

Now, could someone look at what I just wrote and come to the conclusion that Warrick is somehow a splintered segment of my own psyche, blah, blah, blah, and I should really get a grip? Sure! In doing that they'd be missing the whole point. Writers are writers because they view the world differently. They have the ability to step outside their own sphere for a moment and put themselves into another person's life. That's why a reader picks up a book in the first place right? Because a good author can sweep you out of your own life and drop you into someone else's with a good turn of phrase.

Just remember, a character in a book is only as real as the author makes them. So next time YOUR favorite author tells you they're hearing voices that direct their creativity, don't think they've cracked.

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