Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What a disaster!
I should have seen this coming.

How many times have you been talking with other writers and you've heard someone say about their short story or novel, "Oh, the characters just took over and wrote themselves." Must have been hundreds of times, right?

We should all be so lucky to have characters like that.

This is November, National Novel Writing Month, although not through some act of congress or anything like that. And I'm writing a novel. The working title has been "The Glitch." Anyway, things were going pretty well for a few days. It's a sort of Sci-Fi thing with nice characters, a few really cordial people.

So, a few days into this, maybe around the 5th or 7th of the month, one of them, Rod, says to me, "Hey, man, you are really on to something here. The story is slammin' and the guys, and Tabby, and I are having a really good time. It's like I've known these people for years."

Well, actually he has, because they have all been working in the same lab for a long time. Not the brother nor the guy who lives on the hill. Not Earl Weaver, either. But there are a bunch of lab rats who do get a lot of face time in the book. Rod is one of them.

"We've been talking," he said to me, "and we all sort of agree that we could actually write this thing ourselves."

What? This really happens where characters take over a story? I thought it was a metaphor or something, but it's real.

So I say, "This is so cool. I'm glad you're all getting along and I'd be glad to 'step back and let the story take on a life of its own' as writers like to say."

And that's what I did.

This weekend I started getting curious about where things were headed. My wife was sleeping and I had to find something to do, you know? I turn on the computer and take a look at the file.

Nothing had been written! I couldn't believe my eyes. These clowns, the characters who were going to write this on their own hadn't written a single word!

Now I'm way behind and have to work like a motherfucker to get up to 50,000 words by the end of the month.

If you ever in your life hear an author say that her characters wrote their own story, tell her and everyone else in the room that she's full of shit.

No comments: