Saturday, January 7, 2012

Talking Heads

Most writers can't let go of the idea they may be schizophrenic at least once or twice in their lives. They have people living inside their heads. They hear voices, they talk to themselves.

I'm no exception. Standing in line at a grocery store not too long ago, I blurted out to the cashier, "That's why Ophelia didn't recognize Davingdale, she wasn't wearing her glasses!" Naturally, the cashier thought I was nuts.

Living in our heads with other people is hard. Especially when you accidentally call your children by your characters' names. Or your significant other. Somehow, they're always there. You can't escape them.
Hence the shcizophrenia. (And please, for all intents and purposes, this is just a playful concept. I know and understand that schizophrenia is a dreadful and serious disease.)

My characters come to me out of the blue. I don't ask for them. I don't look for them. They just magically appear out of thin air. Sometimes it's only a name. Sometimes a snippet of conversation.

Penny and William (THE LADY'S MASQUERADE) appeared to me in a gazebo having a conversation. I had no idea who they were or what they were doing, but there they were. And I took that conversation and wrote it down. Mind you, that first conversation morphed into something completely different for the novel, as a matter of fact, that first conversation had nothing to do with the book. The only thing that remains is the gazebo.

Likewise, for Violet and Ellis (THE LADY'S FATE). Their first conversation was in a flower shop, which was discarded for a river, and a boat dock.

Sometimes I'll see someone on the street, or like last year at the beach, and a full-blown character is born. I called him "Jack" and by the end of my two week stay in Narragansett, I thought I knew him inside and out. Of course, never having spoken to him, I'm sure he was nothing like the "character" I made him out to be, but he served a very singular purpose. He became the love interest for my latest leading lady.

So the next time you see someone talking to themselves in the bookstore, or writing feverishly in a coffee house, ask them if they're a writer. Who knows, it might be me.


  1. I haven't blurted out names...yet. But I do spend the nights I can't sleep making up "stories" for my characters. BTW, downloaded A Husband for Miss Trent yesterday. Thank you for my fun Friday read!

  2. I haven't blurted out names yet either. Maybe I'm not crazy enough.

  3. Interesting. I thought this was going to be about how to avoid talking heads in your dialogue. Heheh. But if I do see someone talking to themselves, and she looks like you, I will introduce myself.

  4. I do love me some Talking Heads...oh...not the group?
    ...and yes, those characters are always hanging around. I think my husband and I talk as much about my imaginary friends as we do the ones in real life! sad, but true...and fun! :)

  5. This was all so familiar, Anne. :-) Our characters are so real to us, it's impossible to keep them from invading our "real" lives. But if I've gone so far to blurt out something to a stranger, I've conveniently forgotten that. *lol*

  6. Characters quite often show up uninvited in my head. Sometimes it takes a while to direct them to where they should be :-)

  7. Exactly! In addition to talking to my characters I often get in trouble for facial expressions. If I'm thinking about a scene or an emotion one of my characters will be feeling at some point I've found sometimes that emotion shows up on my face. I've offended people who that I was angry at them, I've also made people think I was in love with them. In reality I didn't even see them...

  8. Anne, I adore your new header! So absolutely smashing! Love the covers of your books too.

    So I'm not the only one, smirk,smirk! No, we can't help it. It's our subconscious at work. Without it working overtime at the darndest times we'd never write anything worth reading.


  9. Read about your commenting problem. Think I'm going to back up my blog today, just in case the whole Blogger world is about to blow up.

  10. I'm glad it's not me. :D

    I think my kids would be happier if I accidentally called them by my characters' names. I keep mixing up their names. What's really sad is when I call my daughter by one of my Son's names. That never goes down well. ;)

  11. Bummer about your commenting problem at your site. Hope it gets cleared up soon. Character's usually come to me out of the blue as well, sometimes fully formed, sometimes they are more like the hint of perfume drifting on the air.

  12. Thanks everyone for coming over here.

    I guess Blogger is changing their formatting around again because my commenting reply stuff is different. I still can't get on Piedmont Writer. I'm going to write to them to see what's wrong. Not that they will be much help.

    If it doesn't get fixed soon, I guess I'll be on Wordpress.

  13. Haha. I get friends telling me "I saw you driving and was waving and waving but you kept going, just smiling and in your own world."


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