Tuesday, July 7, 2009

So what came first...

the writer or the characters?

I've been thinking about this lately. Why, I'm not entirely sure. (Just like I started to question the meaning of time, but I digress.) A lot of people, if you were to ask them would probably tell you they started to write early on, maybe even was born to write. Then there are others who started later in life, they decided they wanted to try it out and... there we go.

I was always a daydreamer. It's why I like silent vehicle rides because it gives me the chance to slip out of reality and dream up stories in my head. I can't recall a time when I didn't just stare out of the bus window, dreaming up scenarios of suspense and whatnot; and yes, romance. If someone were to ask me where these thoughts came from, I couldn't say.

I didn't start writing until public school, when I was in grade seven or so. Oh sure we had to do short stories (can't for the life of me write that short, btw!). I once wrote (with my mom's help) a story in grade five or something about a cat (Cue- modeled off our huge white male cat called Cue) that was catnapped. I can't recall if he was a show cat or something but either way, the story was spun out and I think the neighbour was the culprit but I cannot be sure now. Anyway, we had an author come in and he liked it and gave me my first praise. I remember thinking, oh, I can do this but I didn't do anything more. I didn't write.

I read. Oh did I ever read. But I didn't write.

Then grade six came along and we had to write a short story (I think 5 pages or so but mine no surprise, turned out to be a cramped 10). This story was spun on suspense once again where I was the main char and I was going off too BC to meet my cousin but the train derails and it goes from there about me finding my way back. Teacher read my story in front of class. I was...embarassed.

Still didn't write. Not on my own. I was too busy dreaming. Grade 8 would be the year I decided to put my pencil down on paper. I remember my friend writing. She had started a novel and for some reason, it clicked at that moment. It was a 'oh why didn't I think of that' kind of moment and so I began. I've always loved the supernatural. We'll talk about Diego (the ghost that up to last Christmas I thought was gone but...now I'm not so sure) another day. It wasn't a surprise that my first attempt at a novel was about a boy named Devon who was a telekinetic. He moved to a new town after his parents were murdered to live with his aunt and uncle and was just starting highschool. There he meets Kirby, who will then become his crush throughout even when the killers follow him and whatnot. Turns out his uncle was the killer and had done some psychic testing on the boy or whatnot.

I got 400 pages into the book (400 written pages that is) before I stopped. Why? Not because I lost interest. Oh I loved sitting in the chair by the window with my discman and writing in the sun. No, didn't lose interest in that story, but I had then started reading Kathy Reichs and so my love of forensic anthropology began...and thus, my muses. I started a story about a murder... and my main char an anthropologist. I didn't get far into that one.

I've been asked before where I got my ideas. In grade 9, I began writing Fatal Visions. Why? Not because of a book. Not because of a show. But because of a video game. I was hooked on my brother's playstation Medal of Honor game. It was about the war and it just...intrigued me. Add Final Fantasy with Squall and Rinoa to the mix and *poof* instant muses and J.C., Amy and Stefan were created. Really, aside from them and Broderick, no other chars from that time stuck. Gone was the doctor known as Josef. Gone was Karen, the motherly figure that tended to J.C. when he was little and when he broke from conditioning (another thing that changed). Gone was two baddies and a fatherly type teacher. Oh one other guy did stick, but his role changed, from bestfriend of Amy to baddie.

So what came first? Did the writer or the characters? I'm not really sure. To a point, the framework of the characters have always been around. But for me, I needed that push, the drive, the 'oh why didn't I think of that' moment to get me to put pencil to paper.

So where do you come in? Did you need a small push in the right direction or did you just 'know' and it was the only way to close off your characters' voices?

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