"Writing can be messy; full of pointless breakdowns, yelling at the computer, banging your forehead against the keyboard, and hiding under the table."
-Rachel Sammons

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Writers Don't Control The Story and Other Things To Learn

Prepare for a long, somewhat random rambling.

So, while I was in school the other day, (yes, I am still in school, unfortunately) we were having a discussion about a book we had read. The book: Oedipus The King. The Author: Sophocles. As we were discussing this amazingly twisted play, we had to discuss the question of Oedipus having any "freewill" in the story. Well, someone pointed out that Oedipus "doesn't have any freewill because Sophocles is controlling the story and could do whatever he wants with him." Wrong! I cringed when I heard this! It actually made me angry, and this person has obviously never tried writing.

Almost any author will agree with me here. Yes, the author does have some control over the story. I'll give you that much. However, almost any author will agree that the characters take on a whole persona, a whole person and sometimes they take this on without the author intending for it! To the author and hopefully to the readers, they're real! You can't force a real person to do and say whatever you want, can you? Yeah, I didn't think so.  Same with characters.  If they become real, you can't force them to do something.

Stephanie Meyer (whose new book came out today, and yes, of course I already have my copy, why'd you have to ask?) once said in an interview how a character had suddenly unveiled a side of their personality to her. She hadn't known that this character wouldn't like Bella, but all of a sudden she hated her. Stephanie didn't just make that happen. It was in the characters makeup, something slightly beyond all author control. Out of nowhere, it just happened. Once she knew that this character didn't like Bella, she couldn't just leave it out of the story because she would be betraying that characters true nature.

Shannon Hale has had many encounters of this sort with her characters. She writes them so realistically that they are real, they have to be real.  I don't like to think that there is a possibility that they're just a figment of imagination.  Because they're not, to me, at least. One of her most notable and most amazing characters wasn't even in first drafts. He just popped up. All of a sudden, there was this character that she had to write in. After being a side character in two books, he demanded his own! This is how she will explain it when you hear her speak or read her blog. She said she was done with that set of characters and story ideas, but he weaseled his way into her mind, planted his story right in front of her and forced her to give him his own book!

Honestly, how can you say that the author always controls the characters? People!

Okay. Rambling done. For now.

Also, I was at Borders yesterday and today. Yes, I realize that might sound quite nerdy. Whatever. Anyhow, I was looking at the new issue of Poetry Magazine, which I bought, and I was thinking of how little poetry I have read and how I don't understand a lot of poems most of the time. So, I've decided to expand my horizons! This summer I will also add to my list a lot of poetry books. I plan to explore different poets work and expand my knowledge in this area. I am rather excited about reading poems and getting to know different poets and their style of writing. Perhaps this can help me to become a better poet. Speaking of which, my English teacher liked the poem I had published in Facets! I was very happy about that. I also really hope at least one of my poems will make it into Poetry Magazine. That would be so thrilling! I should know if the ones I submitted will make it in by July.

1 comment:

  1. I know right they just come all of a sudden but characters can be made up by the author but then they kind of just have their own personality after you want them to have a different one.