When people learn that I am a writer, they ask me some interesting questions…mostly about where my characters come from. My usual answer is: They just come to me. It’s an honest answer and one I have replied with many times. By searching pictures and photos, I choose the ones that appear as I would see my characters in reality.
Once a cast is compiled, I step aside and allow them free will. Oh, I have a general idea of the plot or of what will occur in the novel, but my characters, being as human as they can be, are given free rein to say and do what they please. So, for example, when one of them commits murder, I see it as a decision he made.
Sometimes characters will take a wrong turn and bump into a wall…perhaps better known as writer’s block. Here, too, I don’t intervene or pry them free, but rather wait it out until they have found an acceptable solution. My characters are not marionettes where I pull the strings and know ahead of time the direction they will take.
So, too, when my characters speak, the dialogue comes from them with their own unique jargon, voice, and tone. I am merely the scribe, hoping to catch their every word.
Interestingly, I was reading about Agatha Christie. In the foreword of her mystery novel Crooked House, she says, “I don’t know what put the Leonides family into my head—they just came….I feel that I myself was only their scribe.” Maybe it’s in the spirit of Halloween or call it channeling that Christie in 1949 chose the very words I use today to describe myself: a scribe.
But what gave me a slight chill as I worked on the fourth novel of my Dana Greer Mystery Series, Christie named one of her characters Sophia, and I, too, have a character by this name.
Add to that, in Crooked House, Christie has a child character patterned after Rhoda Penmark in the 1950s novel the Bad Seed. In the novel I am presently working on, I have also tried to pattern a child after Rhoda, whose behavior is quite unexplainable other than to say, “She is a bad seed.”
Last night, I ordered and started reading Christie’s book. I never gave much thought to channeling, but I must admit I had a weird feeling…as if Agatha and I were on the same page.