What do you mean-they're not real?

Two hours of writing fiction leaves this writer completely drained. For those two hours he has been in a different place with totally different people. -Roald Dahl

Whenever my husband has to ask me the same question ten times to get an answer, he usually just looks at our son and says-She must be in Brookhollow. I may be in the room, staring right at him even, but my mind is somewhere else completely. I think my son is actually starting to wonder who all of these people are that I talk about all the time as if they are real...with the problems they are facing...and better than average names lol:)

Some days I drive to work and I don't even know how I got there (thank God for muscle memory, I guess), but I do know how I will tie in the loose element that has been nagging me all morning or I'll have discovered the perfect opening or ending line to a scene that hadn't felt just right. I'm actually considering putting a sign in the back window of my truck that says 'Caution-writer on board'.

Then, for me, one of the best feelings of validation is when other people start talking about my characters or my settings as if they are real. And after seeing my storyboard of my fictional town of Brookhollow with the pictures of all the beautiful people I image when I write, they fully understand why I 'spend so much time there'. Another way I can tell that I've created a 'real' character is when I'll discuss plot points with my husband and he can point out what will or will not work, because it is 'out of character' lol. When an unromantic, I.T. guy cares enough about a fictional person to point out a possible discrepancy, I know I've created a good one. (Or more likely that I've MARRIED a good one.)

But I think immersing myself in the book as fully as I do, is what helps to create memorable, relatable characters. If I can create a place where I love to be, hopefully my readers will want to be there too:)



  1. Jen - good writing is like a good baptism; it requires full immersion! (Ha, ha! Catholics don't really do that - I just thought it was funny.) I get completely lost, too. I expect to see my people walking down the street, shopping where I shop. I think we have to inhabit characters just like actors do, or you really don't know what's inside. And if you don't spend a lot of time with them, they won''t tell you their secrets. Ron helps me with dialogue when I can't figure out where to go with it. Not such a stretch for him, though, since he's an artist. Good for your IT guy that he supports you to that extent! Aren't good men wonderful?!

    1. Haha! Love the immersion pun, Muriel!

    2. Hi Muriel,

      Yes, good men are wonderful! I feel very lucky to have mine. He puts up with my writer neurosis better than I could for sure! :)

  2. LOL Jen. I think you could print up that sign and sell it at RWA and we'd all buy one.

  3. I want that sign for my car, Jen! Sometimes- when I work out, I don't listen to music. I just think about my book - the characters, plot, setting- and the time goes by. Sometimes I even have to repeat exercises because I was so deep in thought that I literally can't remember if I just did them- argh!

  4. lol, me too, Karen!

    I love that us writers have soooo much in common!

  5. Jenn, I love this because it's true! I not only do that zoning out when I'm writing but also when I'm reading a really good book.

  6. Thanks Syndi! Yeah, I can hardly get upset with the men in my life for zoning out watching the football game, when I zone out all the time lol:)


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