When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people, not characters – Ernest Hemingway

First: I’m going to limit Writing Wednesday to every other week, mainly because I don’t always have something to say. I like to think I’m a “quality over quantity” type of person, but if you read the first draft of any of my stories, you’d see that the opposite is just as true.

Moving on:

One of my favourite parts of writing is making up characters (I’m sure I’ve said this before). I like forming a picture of them in my mind and describing the heck out of them so that others can see what I’m seeing. I give them names and personalities, families and friends. By a certain point, I start to think of them as being real. As being actual people with actual lives instead of playthings for my imagination.

After finishing Fireworks, I decided that I would start celebrating my characters’ birthdays. I don’t actually leave the house to celebrate, but I acknowledge their birthdays with a tweet.

birthday tweetsIf it’s wrong to use a screen cap of my past tweets in my own blog, then I don’t wanna be right.

Last week, I was shocked when I forgot Pippa’s birthday.

Which is ironic, really, because of all my characters, she’s the one most often left feeling lonely and/or unloved. I personally find her fascinating (I’m 20+ pages into the sequel told from her point of view and I’m still learning more about her with every word). So I actually felt kinda bad that I forget.

I realize that she’s not real. I realize that no one else cares if I acknowledge a character’s birthday or not. But she’s been living in my head for over a year and I feel as bad as I would if I forgot a friend’s birthday.

Side note: I’m pretty sure I treat my characters better than I treat some of my acquaintances (sorry, guys. If you lived in my head too, we’d have a similar relationship).

At first I thought it would be a little odd to celebrate characters’ birthdays and achievements (I plan on sobbing on May 1 because it will be the anniversary of someone’s death), but since there are millions of fans who acknowledge July 31st as being the birth date of one Harry James Potter, perhaps it’s not that weird.

So even though I’m over a week late (her birthday is February 11th, according to a note I forgot I made), here’s to you, Pippa – the misunderstood “witch” whose heart is in the right place but who just has really bad luck (don’t worry, Pip, you’ll redeem yourself eventually).

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5 thoughts on “When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people, not characters – Ernest Hemingway

  1. disregardeddreams says:

    I’m the exact same in terms of thinking bout characters as friends, rather than imaginary people! The lead girl in the novel I’m editing now started talking in my head the other night, so I told my sister and she looked at me like I was crazy. Of course, trying to explain that she was updating me on her life since the story ended didn’t help much either!
    I’m also the same about treating the characters better than real life people! I could tell you a load of random facts about the people who come into my stories, and yet I STILL have to go on Facebook to check my best friend’s birthday!

    • I’m so glad you understand! I talk about my characters like they’re real…to the point that sometimes I forget they don’t actually exist (and then I feel sad for a little while).

      • disregardeddreams says:

        Yeah, I’m the same! I’d be sitting there thinking, ‘Oh, this character would find this hilarious! I’ll just tell … Oh …’ Some of them I want to be real people, or I want to find their real life equivalent, because we have so much in common and they’re the kind of people who would get me, you know?

  2. I also like writing about characters in great detail. I feel like if I know the entire life story of a character (when they lost their first tooth, what country they visited during spring break in college) they will feel more real for the five minutes I need them in the story. Making them into real people makes you think differently when you write for them because you know who they are, they’re not just an archetype.
    I’m glad I found your blog, I’ll have to have a look around.

    • Thanks for reading and commenting! I completely agree with you, it definitely makes them real (and I always talk about them like they actually exist).

      Thanks for looking around and I apologize in advance for any rambling posts (it happens sometimes)!

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