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Archive for August 13th, 2011

Guest Blogger: Dennis Clarkston
Saturday, August 13th, 2011

My Character Hijacked My Muse

Hello and welcome to my thoughts. Thank you Delilah for allowing me to be a guest on your blog. Sometimes, I wonder if I am doing the right thing when I venture out like this. You see; my topic for today’s post addresses characters who hijack my muse.

With that being said, I fear that I might be visited by men wearing white lab coats carrying a net and that might try to fit me with one of those white jackets with extra long sleeves. Especially after I tell you that my characters talk to me.

When I begin a project, I interview anywhere from five to seven characters including the protagonist(s), antagonist(s), comic relief and a few secondary characters. They provide very important clues that allow me to layout my book. From this, I build an outline. Now, I sit down in front of the keyboard and start writing my story.

Once I start the first draft, my characters assist me on my journey through their world. Whether it is a main character or a secondary character, I become the character and write in her/his point of view. They guide my thoughts because it is their story that I am telling in the first place.

Now, to the crux of this blog post: be wary of some of those secondary characters. On more than one occasion, a character had hijacked my story. Usually it is a secondary character, but once it was the antagonist trying to portray himself as a hero.

I have to keep my eye on the characters, yet they do hijack my muse. The thing is that the characters can do it so quickly. I am more apt to be hijacked once my muse starts to flow.

My most memorable hijacking occurred years ago while I worked on my first book. The scene involved space travel and a secondary character. Before too long, the words flowed onto the screen. My fingers flew across the keyboard as this character dictated the words.

At this point, my secondary character stepped up and took control. I did not realize that he had hijacked my work until I reread what I had written. This is when I found that the character had inserted himself as the protagonist of the story. The secondary character redirected the direction of the story so that it revolved around him.

By that time, I had entered 20 pages of his muse into the word processor. It took a bribe which included his own short story series in order for me to wrestle control away from this secondary character. Once I got him quiet, I (along with some of the main characters of this book) pushed him into a closet and locked the door. Then, I continued working on my original story idea.

As for the 20 pages of his story, they reside in a file on my computer. I intend on keeping my promise to work on the story in the future. Until I do, I get weekly reminders from this character when he beats on the closet door wanting out. It can get really noisy when the others stuffed in the closet with him join in.

My main characters help keep the renegades corralled in the closet. They know if the secondary characters get out, they may end up in the closet. What an incentive for them.

Now, I’m not saying “don’t allow your characters to assist” because it can be fun. As I said earlier, it is their story and they can guide you through it. My characters will tell me when I am not writing their story. I usually yield to their wisdom.

Do you ever converse with your characters? If you do, do they provide you with valuable information? I do on occasion but never in public except in my car. In that case, most people assume I have Blue Tooth and I am talking to someone via my cell phone. That way I can converse with my characters or dictate notes and use my voice recorder to capture the information.

That is why that I know this post may make me sound a bit on the crazy side but one of my favorite phrases I picked up over the years is “One does not have to be crazy to live in this world, but, man, it sure does help.”

Dennis Clarkston likes to read romance, science fiction, mystery and comedy – preferably all combined together. He likes to write the above genres but finds that most of his works end up being mainly science fiction/action adventure. Dennis writes under the pseudonym of Clark Stone and is currently pre-published.

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