Channeling my characters

Laura’s post yesterday (thank you BTW) made me think about my characters. You see, I am a “method” writer – meaning I totally get into my character’s head when I write, almost “becoming” them.

At least during the rough draft. When I edit, I have distance – something I try to avoid during the initial writing. But that is another post….

This is about me and my characters.

Okay, so being so close to my mc has advantages – I can usually find his/her voice pretty easily. I can be authentic to the character. And my characters are as unique as they are supposed to be (at least that is the goal)

There is, however a HUGE disadvantage.

Being in my character’s head often means I take on their personality for a bit. And their angst.

Especially their angst.

Take my current WiP, Perfect Scars. In this story, the mc has a lot of problems. She is the epitome of EMO…

Not so much fun to channel! Seriously.

After long writing stretches with her I always feel angsty unsettled. At first I couldn’t figure out why. I mean, I was happy – I knew I was. So what the heck was all of the random angst about.

Until I realized it was HER. My main character.

I was channeling her. Living her life for a bit.

Ooops….Guess I needed to get out of her head after a writing stint, right?

Have you guys ever done that…lived in your character’s head so much you were channeling them in your real life? Please say yes.

Please…

10 thoughts on “Channeling my characters

  1. Ien Nivens

    Yes! I tend to write in the first person (especially for first drafts), which exaggerates the effects you describe. I think it also happens that a really good reader can take on the personality of an important character for a while. Sometimes for the better, sometimes…not so much.

    Fiction–whether we produce it or consume it–can break up the rigidity of the ego. That can be pretty uncomfortable.

    I often summon a character, usually as I lie down to sleep at night or to take a nap. This is a very deliberate choice. I’ll put a character on like a change of clothing. I write first thing in the morning, and the hope is always that a session will take on the quality of “automatic writing,” which is very much a form of channeling. It works best when I’ve done the summoning thing the night before.

    Sometimes, too, I’ll start to see what’s happening around me through the filter of a character I’ve “become” for the moment. It actually helps me to remember that I, too, am an invented character, that my beliefs, values and desires are reflections of my family, my culture and my personal choices over time. The fact that I can “be” someone else–even temporarily–means that I don’t have to be quite so attached to who I have habitually imagined myself to be.

    Thanks for this post, Christine!

  2. Oh, I cry all the time, or laugh, or get angry, or whatever while I’m storylining. It happened at work once – I got so mad channeling a character that I pounded my fist on the desk and everyone looked up. It was embarrassing.

    On the other hand though it can be helpful. If I need to get angry and speak my mind I channel Rebecca (because she’s a bitch). If I’m scared I channel Gar, because he’s not afraid of anything. If I’m lonely I channel Lane, and if hubby’s in the mood and I’m not I find someone who is to channel😉 (also usually Lane, since he’s based on hubby and just as horny!)

  3. oh yeah. I think, especially if you’re writing in first person, this happens to a lot of us, whether we notice or not. It’s tough, because you want to be true tot he character, but sometimes, the character comes out in you. It does make for very real, raw emotion, but also helps your family to realize just how crazy writers are! Lol!

    1. I WISH I could do that. Characterization is something I am struggling with right now big time. It is the weak point in my short story (probably not the only one, but definitely the most obvious) and I am really having difficulty with it. What’s worse is I should be good at this. I used to act in high school and I think I was at least halfway decent at getting into a character’s head. I just need to find my way back there. I don’t have any advice for you though, sorry.

  4. I don’t think I get into their head that much…but sometimes I’ll think odd thoughts like, “What would my MC think of my kids? Or this shirt?” Like I really care about her opinion!

  5. I spend a lot of time in my characters head.

    So far I’ve been able to dissociate with her when I close down the WIP for the day.

    Then there are those days I’m the one that’s angry at the world and moody. I use those days to make her experience what I’m feeling. In some ways I probably get this character more than any other I’ve written. (Hugs)Indigo

  6. simplyscott

    I do get pretty deep into it with my characters, but I’ve never walked away from a story as one of them in any way. I do, on occasion, when I’m walking from one building at work to another, get into the story in my head — it’s usually dialogue. But I just store it away when I get back to business.

  7. I definitely “become” my characters. In fact, today I’m feeling like one heck of a crab-a**…oh wait, my character is happy — guess that’s just me. But truly, I get emotional when my characters do. I’m the same way when reading a fantastic book — can’t clear my head afterwards. Interesting post~

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