Coming alive

There’s a moment – and every writer knows it well – where the characters step off the kerb and start walking for themselves.

No matter how tightly the story is plotted, how rigidly the character’s actions and appearance and thoughts are scripted, at some point they start doing stuff they aren’t supposed to. Instead of walking to the shop to get the eggs to bake the cake for the dinner party where the big plot twist will be revealed, they make a turn and go off to the top of the hill, looking out on the boring community, the stagnant existence, the arid future.

A white convertible passes by and they jump in, heading off down Route 66 for a passionate fling with a sultry stranger.

The poor writer, faced with a revolt by their own creation, has to decide. Hoy, get back on track, you; I’ve got a deadline to meet! or Well, I wonder where this is going; let’s just follow for a while.

Go with the second. Give those dudes their head. Like water running downhill free and natural, the characters jump out of their concrete channel, wave their arms in the air, and romp thorough the story. It sparkles and comes alive.

Of course, sometimes it sparkles a little too much, and heads off in directions that are wildly inappropriate. That’s okay. They’ve had their fun. They can come back home and do their chores and be good little characters.

My question, dear writer, is this: What just happened? What’s going on in your head? Just how much in control of your thoughts are you really?

We’ve all got hidden depths. We must. When we read some fabulous story of adventure and excitement, or a poem stabs us in the heart, or a movie makes os look at the world in a different way, those things work because they touch something inside that is exactly the same. We recognise beauty in a deep and natural way because we have beauty inside. We don’t need to study the colours and composition of a sunset to decide if it’s beautiful or not. We know at a glance.

We recognise the majesty of a castle, the happiness of a child, the courage of a fireman because they resonate with those exact same qualities inside us.

Don’t cover them up. Don’t push them away. They can and they will transform your life in exactly the same way as your characters step away from the canned narrative you have plotted out for them.

Don’t be stale.

Be you!

Britni

Photo by JESHOOTS.com from Pexels

Written by Britni Pepper

Britni Pepper has always enjoyed telling stories. About people, places and pleasures. Her schoolmates loved listening to her stories about princesses and pirates and dragons, and once she looked up to find the principal looking on. "No, no, don't stop, Britni," he said. "I want to hear what happens next!" What happened next was university, a job in the travel industry, and a career of travelling the world meeting the most fascinating people. Britni has travelled to thirty of the world's nations and loves making up stories about fascinating people doing interesting things in exotic places. No longer tales about princes and wizards, but her stories are just as much fantasy as ever.

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