Tag Archives: writing

My characters do exactly what I want them to… yeah, right!

It’s a regular day for writing – you’ve already played the scene out in your head a thousand times; you even have the dialogues planned. Something very specific is going to happen – something that only you know, something that will take the story ahead, something that’ll make one of your characters dance to your tunes.

And then that character turns around, smirks at you in a manner that’s more amused than condescending, and then does whatever it wants anyway. Hours of thought turn useless, dialogues vaporize, and your story line hangs dangerously on the precipice. But one moment later, your fingers fly over the keyboard as you try and type as fast as the words come to your mind. That is what your characters, the ones that you breathed life into, can do to you.

How often has it happened to you that you’re writing something, anything, with almost every detail penned out in your thoughts. But your character says or does something that even you didn’t expect. Plus, he or she uses your fingers and effort to make the twist come alive. You find yourself typing furiously, not sure why you’ve deviated, but knowing with scary surety that this had been the right path to go on all along.

What you get then is a story that reached where you wanted it to, and that too, by making use of the more interesting route. I guess it all comes down to the fact that people are unpredictable. Sure, they won’t do anything too out of character, but that character itself is unpredictable because of its many layers. The characters you create are people too. They may be fictional, but in an author’s head, they’re very much alive. You talk about them like they’re your friends, like their trials are real, their grief, bothersome, and their achievements, something to be greatly appreciated. You feel their pain and pleasure, happiness and despair, loss and gain. You live many lives with them – and yet, you give them a free reign to live their lives wholly.

That is the very reason your readers can associate with them – because you associate with them. And when you’re treating them like real people, do they not have the right and probability to act as per their own wishes? All you can do is see where the flow takes you.

The debate of story drives characters vs. characters drive story is an old one. I’ve seen that most of the time, I choose what my characters do. But when they choose to drive the story instead, I let them take the wheel. Most times, the results are better than whatever I could have plotted! What about you? Do you control your characters at all times? Or do you let them be the people they are and see where they take your story?

– Rishika

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The world as your inspiration

The term ‘Inspiration’ has a lot of impact on the life of people who rely on their creativity to make a living – an author is just one subsection of the people who fall into this category. The reason that inspiration has such an impact is fairly simple. We need to create worlds with people and settings, chaos and peace, negatives and positives, love and hate, anger and laughter and life and death. But how does someone who’s never experienced love write about the emotion that drives their central character? How do you write about a man who is the living embodiment of sex appeal and righteousness if you don’t know anyone who has those qualities? How do you decide the warmth exuding features of your heroine if you don’t know anyone whose eyes sparkle like hers should? And how do you create a man so vile that a snake’s skin would crawl at the mere mention of his name if there is no one who instigates that fear in you?

That’s where inspiration comes in. You don’t need to know someone who has all the qualities of your protagonist or antagonist. Just one iota of similarity is often enough, and you can build an entire persona around that one characteristic. The same works with settings. All you need sometimes is a simple image of an ocean and you can create a world that is set around that very beachfront. Those scattered images help you create the world that your characters live in and the characters themselves. Those scattered images are the inspiration you need. So where do these images come from?

Everywhere!

I find my inspiration in places that others label as peculiar. The antagonist of a movie has a steely resolve that I can associate with my story’s protagonist, with some morals replacing the thirst for destruction of course! A fleeting expression of seriousness on a friend’s face becomes the look my protagonist portrays if he’s had a life that’s filled with hardships. The silent support I receive from a close friend becomes the inspiration for the defining characteristic of my supporting character.

Initially, you may have to look for these inspirations – these scattered images that define traits of your story and its people. But a time will come when the inspiration seeks you out. Where others see only a villain, you will see the circumstances that made him the villain, circumstances that you can alter to make them the past life of your hero. Where others see a delicate woman, you will see the beginning of a journey where situations instigate the weakness to turn into strength. And where others see a silent listener, a shoulder to cry on, you will see the makings of an unmoving friend who stands by your main characters through their thick and thin.

And when the inspiration screams and reaches out to you, for you to see what the others don’t, all you need to do is go with the flow. So sit back and look around and you’ll be finding inspiration in areas that would’ve otherwise been left unseen. Just make sure that you’re carrying a little notebook that can house all the ideas that come hurtling your way, because they can surely overwhelm you if you’re unprepared.

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Why do we write?

They say there’s a book in everyone. They say writing is easy. They say there’s an author in everyone. But then they have something to say about everything; and they don’t exactly spend all their waking hours trying to breathe life into words.

The first Stephen King book I ever read, which wasn’t too long back, introduced me to the phrase with which most authors can relate.

“An author is a person who has taught his imagination to misbehave” – Stephen King

That is the difference between someone who writes because they can and someone who writes because they are inspired to. If you write for the love of writing then you know the joy and the satisfaction in bringing characters to life, creating worlds out of nothing and giving people a face, an appearance and an identity. If you write for the love of writing, you write because you’re driven – something inside you, and around you, inspires you to create. This is why I can relate with Stephen King’s statement. I get most of my inspiration from my dreams. A single moment is all I need to see and remember before letting my imagination run wild and create a life for the people in that moment, their identities, their decisions and their circumstances that lead to that moment.

Leaving fiction aside, you have content writing and unless you’re lucky enough to have chosen your forte, you will find yourself writing about anything and everything. Sometimes, you end up writing because you have to, not because you want to; and yet you keep writing because the pull of the written word is too strong for you to resist.

My blog is for just those people – people who write because they can’t stop themselves. Whether you write content for websites, fiction for children or anything in between, this blog will speak to you as I share through it my experiences on my journey as a writer. And as I share my life lessons, I hope to learn from yours. Tips, strategies and anecdotes – I’ll try and put them all up. And accompanying all that will be the stories born out of my misbehaved imagination!

 

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