Sunday, June 24, 2012


The first time someone asked me how I decided to write for young adults, I didn’t have a good answer. Since an answer like “those are the voices I hear in my head,” might insinuate to the average non-writer that I needed a mental health evaluation, I went with a safe, “ I don’t know,” and then a quick, “my how the color of your shirt makes your eyes glisten,” or something equally as cheesy.
Whenever someone asked me how I decided what subject to write about or how I chose my characters, an answer like “it just comes to me—kinda like magic,” didn’t really seem to cut it either. So I started considering these reasonable questions and realized the answers were simple; I have no control.
I’m like a passenger on a runaway train, a rider on a bucking bronc, a psychic medium—you get the picture.  I don’t choose my genre, subject, or characters—they choose me. Never have I sat down to write and thought; I’m going to write about this character who is X years old, and here’s what’s going to happen to him or her. Unfortunately, I don’t have the power to force my characters to do anything they don’t want to do, (and make it sound halfway decent anyway). By way of trial and a ridiculous amount of error, I’ve learned that the writing process goes much smoother if I keep myself from overthinking and just go with the flow.
I realize the average person doesn’t hear voices in their head or take direction from imaginary people. But if you are a blessed/cursed writer who is plagued with the above-mentioned gifts/afflictions, why not make the most of it? Let your characters be your guide. It’s not like they’re going to cooperate, be quiet, and leave you alone anyway, so you might as well hop on that crazy train and enjoy the ride!  : )

What about you? Do you choose your genre, your subject, or your characters? Or do they choose you?


Tracy Bilen said...

When I'm starting something new, I definitely have to just sit down at the computer...I could wander around for days with no ideas, but the moment I start to type, the ideas are there. Once I've gotten started, I'll see scenes in my head as I'm walking around doing other things.

Suzi said...

I'd definitely say my genre chose me.

I wrote my first YA story 2 years ago, before I really knew much about YA. Now I've fallen in love with it, read it all the time, and write it.

Katie McGarry said...

Colette--my characters are always in control. I get writer's block when I try to make them do what I want instead of letting them do what they want.

Kristin Lenz said...

My stories ideas usually begin with a question, especially "What if..." Sometimes a news story or a real-life event will prompt these questions. I try to jot down ideas about characters, snippets of dialogue, etc. before sitting down to my computer. But once I start typing, I'm always surprised by what the characters start doing.

Kelly Fiore said...

Oh, they absolutely choose me. They talk in my head and they DON'T SHUT UP, especially when I'm supposed to be sleeping or paying attention to something important. And when I'm done with them, or at least done writing with them, it feels like I'm losing my best friend.