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  • Writer's pictureDick Wybrow

On Writing Characters

If you know a writer, you may have heard this sort of thing from them.

If you are a writer, I pray you've experienced this because it's one of the greatest, most intoxicating thrills in writing.

Here it is: the character decided what happened next.

Not like one of those choose-your-own-adventure stories where there are a couple of options to pick from, tailoring the story to whatever appetites, inner-demons, or lecherous proclivities lurking in the back of our minds that seem to stumble into the room wearing a long, damp rain slicker.

But you're writing, usually for a good spell, and one of the characters makes a choice you hadn't intended.

I wonder now whether the first time this happened, years ago, I'd simply batted it away.

"No, no, silly voice in my brain, I've got this. Let's not make choices potentially more germane to the story-- let's go this way instead!"

At the time, it's likely I may have ignored that "inner voice" and bashed on through. Some of those early stories, books, and scripts remain in a desk drawer. A locked desk drawer. One that I've lost the key to.

These days, I write hoping to be struck by that strange "guidance".

Sure, it may be evil spirits left over from those who've toppled from my third floor writing space (loft 1, kitty 0), but I'm going with it. The results are too thrilling.

Now, I'm enough of a realist to understand that it's not actually some disembodied character guiding the text but instead some facet of my subconscious bubbling up after working something out. Like a program running in the background.

Still, it's a thrill. And having worked in a number of different professions, I don't know of anything in any other that comes close.

That's how I learned in late 2019, about forty pages into the new novel I'd been working on, that I'd actually been writing a sequel to Hell, Inc.-- Hell to Pay.

So, listen to the voices.

Except for the ones talking about, you know, acts of public exposure. That's something else entirely.


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