As you may know if you’ve read prior posts, I invited the followers on the Jo Allen Ash Facebook page to send me questions they might have about The Shadows We Make—characters, settings, something they might be wondering about the writing process, or whatever (within reason) interested them. The third question, from D.H., is:
Are you ever surprised by the characters’ stories and how they lead you forward?
Answer: For me, a one-word answer to this question sums it up: Always. I think most authors will tell you how characters have a life of their own, coming into their brains sometimes as total strangers, although before long taking up deep-rooted residence in the grey matter with their own unique personalities and motivations. Often, then, when a person is writing, the character so embedded into the subconscious will dictate where the story is going next, or at least their portion in the telling. It is, of course, the writer who is doing this, but it doesn’t feel that way and the results are often surprising and gratifying, because you can sense the “rightness” present in the character’s decision. As long as the author keeps true to the goals for the story, those multitudinous moments when the character takes you by the hand and says, “No, not that way! Over here. Come on,” works out to be the best direction for the story in the long run. I know many of my characters deserve my deepest gratitude for their assistance!
If you want a visual example of this process, watch the movie “The Man Who Invented Christmas” about Charles Dickens’ writing of A Christmas Carol. It’ll be the perfect time of year soon to indulge yourself with it anyway, and you’ll remember this blog and say to yourself, “Oh, well heck, so that’s how it happens.”
Thanks, D.H.! Who’s next?