When I was getting into writing, the thing that fascinated me most was creating characters. When I was a little kid, I would create characters in my head and they would be my imaginary friends, but they never did impossible things like flying or anything like that. Instead, they were ordinary people like me, only they were my own creations. When I learned about creating my own characters, it was like I had developed that childhood tendency of creating my own friends.
Whenever I finish a short story, or I decide to kill a novella, I always feel this kind of loss, like I’ve let go of my friends. Months after I’ve put them to rest, I miss them and contemplate bringing them back to life through another story, just because they were so much fun to write.
The most important elements of writing are the plot, setting, conflict, theme, and characters, as told to us by Flocabulary in this catchy video:
I agree that all of these are crucial, but the most important one is the characters, in my point of view. They control the entire story and the author is swept along on the ride. What do I mean by that? Well, it is essentially exactly what I just said, the characters control the story. I can start a short story with a specific idea in my head about what I want to happen, but after I get going, the characters decide they don’t like the idea and are going to create their own plot. That may sound crazy, but it’s the truth!
For example, I had these two characters, one male and one female, who had this incredible relationship with each other. I had created them with the intention of making them into a couple, but once I started working with them, it was clear it wasn’t going to work. They had this incredible chemistry, but not the romantic kind. They would bicker in every scene, and the things that they would argue about were hilarious! I found myself laughing at their dialogue as I wrote it. I could see them in my head, like a movie scene, and I didn’t really feel like I was in control of it. They were doing their own thing, and all I was doing was writing it down for them.
See, for all of us writers, the characters are real, breathing people with real emotions and lives. Some of us see them in a crowd, or in a classroom or workplace. Some of us have them on our shoulders and as we go throughout our day, we can hear them voicing their opinions on what is going on around us. They aren’t just cardboard and paper stuck together, like the paper dolls we would make as kids.
For us, our characters are real people and part of our family. I think all fellow writers will agree when I say that the characters rule the world, end of story!