The title of this post isn’t actually a rhetorical question. I’d love to hear what other writers have to say to the question: do your characters talk to you while you’re writing their story? Because I know that answers vary. I know authors– wildly successful authors– who will give you a funny look and an, Uh, no, because they’re . . . fictional? response if you ask whether they hear their characters’ voices. I know other authors– also wildly successful– who swear that they’ve had entire books thrown into disarray by a particularly “noisy” character who refuses to cooperate with the planned story. I’ve also read books and articles on craft– some of them here on WU– that are fairly dismissive of the idea that a fictional character can, or should, influence the direction of a story. Writers, these articles suggest, should take responsibility for their own plots, be the captains of their own ship– and I’m not sure that I necessarily disagree.
But I do tend to hear my character’s voices. Now, I don’t think either answer to my question makes you more or less of a writer or better or worse as a storyteller. Every author is different, and everyone has to find the writing process that works for them. But I have had characters entirely hijack my plot before. Villains who insisted that they were going to reveal themselves as heroes in the end. Romantic pairings that I never planned for, because one character simply pointed to another inside my head and said, “I want that one.”