I’m at the beginning of the end where “The King’s Sons,” the last book in my first trilogy, is concerned. I’m revising/editing my little heart out for the fourth time with the text, and the draft is out to beta readers. Through the trilogy as a whole, I’ve watched my characters grow over twenty-five years (their time) and seven (mine), and while I really can’t wait to get the novel out to the public later this year–perhaps August or September–it’s also a sad thought to say goodbye to the characters I’ve really come to care about.
MY CHARACTERS ARE LIKE REAL PEOPLE TO ME
It’s such an odd relationship, that of author and character. I can say without any hesitation, my characters are like real people to me. I think about them as if they really existed. Maybe that makes me crazy. But if that’s the case, every writer’s crazy. (We probably are, come to think of it, but hey, that’s crazy in a good way.)
My characters are almost like my kids, if I had kids and those kids knew better than I did what they needed. The number of times I have fought with my characters about what I thought they should do, when they knew all along what was right…. I’ve only had success as a writer when I learned, after my first novel, to give up the control and let my characters do their own thing. They must act how they deem they should. Even if it’s a mistake for them, it’s the right move for the novel, and it’s what needs to happen for my stories to be “real.” To strike any chord of being believable.
I always love it when people think I as the writer am in control…. I’m totally not. I guess I could choose to be, but when I’ve done that, I’ve forced my characters to be wooden and stiff; they became puppets doing what I made them instead of the breathing, functioning people directing their own lives that they should be. Like any parent in real life, the time comes when you’ve got to step back and let your darlings be their own people.
“How did you come up with that?”
I’ve been asked before, “How did you think to write that? To end your novel that way? How do you figure out what’s going to happen?” I can’t really take the credit for myself…. All the best moments in my fiction (or at least, my favorites) I didn’t envision happening as they did. Most of them threw me for a loop and really upset me. When it came time to write what I wanted, I’d realize my characters had developed as people to a point that I just couldn’t see them making the choices I’d foreseen. They would do something different, and that something different was always so much more interesting, so much deeper, than what I on my own had planned.
I feel like I say this a lot, but it’s worth repeating: it’s all about the characters. I give them the credit. And I will miss them so much!!!