I’m just the scribe here.

I tell the stories, I’m told to tell. I carefully write each detail down with impartiality.  I am a scribe, recording the thoughts and words of others. These stories are not my own, but the memories of those that live inside my head. I do my best to honor them, to remain true to their words.

Photo Credit: Metaphysics-for-life.com

That’s how writing is for me. It’s an out-of-body experience, a journey, a surprise. It’s not always like this, of course. Sometimes it’s a struggle to hear or feel my characters. But when it clicks, it’s magically! I love when I’m so in the zone, that I stop and think Huh, where did THAT come from? It’s when I know the story I’m telling is pure, untainted by my inner critic. I’m addicted to that feeling.

I’ve tried explaining it to my non-writing friends. I painfully stumble over my words, trying to express a feeling. It’s not easy to do, at least not for me.

Recently I was discussing my NaNoWriMo novel with a friend. I was complaining that one of my characters refused to commit suicide. I had it all planned out and yet when the time came, he wouldn’t do it. If he was going to die, which he had to (well in my opinion anyway), he was determined to do it his way. There would be no suicide for him. He wanted to greet death with his lover and so he did. After I finished my complaining, my friend looked at me and said, You sound psycho.

I had to laugh because yes, I did. She didn’t understand how I couldn’t just write the suicide. After all, I was  writing the damn thing.  But you see, it isn’t always about what I want. Sometimes, I’m just a scribe. I write what my characters want me to write. They take on a life of their own and who am I to interfere?

Another time I wrote a rather gruesome, passion-driven murder and shared it with my husband. He took one look at me and said, Uh, should I be worried about going to sleep tonight?

After I reassured him there was nothing to fear, that I didn’t plan on re-enacting the scene, he asked how I’d thought of it. I couldn’t place my finger on one event. At a basic level I know it’s a combination of books I’ve read, stories I’ve heard and TV/movies I’ve watched, all combined to create a gruesome scene. Yet at some level, I feel it was my character leading me on. Telling me his story. Trying to explain his thoughts.

Photo Credit: Digitalart

I’ve learned not to question my writing too much. I take it as it comes. When a character pops up that I wasn’t expecting, my first reaction is usually, Who are you? Or more often, Damn it! Where did YOU come from?

They all have their place in my novels, even if I’m not sure where that is. After the initial shock passes, I do what every good hostess should, I welcome them and invite them to tell their story. Everyone has one!

I love writing (which I’m fairly certain is obvious given this blog) and I don’t mine acting as a scribe, it’s all part and parcel of being a writer.

16 thoughts on “I’m just the scribe here.

  1. Great post. I completely agree with you! Sometimes my characters are awful people and I wonder where in my mind they've sprung from, and I worry that I might have based them on my subconscious feelings about someone and that they'll read the story and think it's about them… maybe it is 😉

  2. Top post Angie, thank you. I do know what you mean. I give all the credit to my muse .. and thank him for being so kind when the story and characters simply unfold to a point where I surprise myself. And you know it's these stories that are easy to find a home for; the ones that seem to be given to us. x

  3. Love the new look of your blog 🙂 And, you're right on with this post. It's so hard to explain sometimes to those who don't write. I get the 'you're so strange' comment often!! It really is about listening to your characters, following where they lead. I'm always amazed by how I go into a project knowing, just knowing, something will turn out one way, but the character just won't let it 🙂

  4. Thanks Lillie! I felt I needed a change. It can be a real challenge when you try to plot things out and your characters look you in the eye, laughing and say "Not a chance!"

  5. I was at a author meet with Scott Westerfeld and asked him if he had times in his "Leviathan" series where his characters didn't seem to want to follow the plot. He rolled his eyes, laughed aloud and said it was common. He regularly re-tuned his plot idea to suit what his characters did.I had a very similar experience when writing "The Sauder Diaries". There are a couple of scenes that I really don't know where they came from, they were certainly not part of the plan when I sat down to write and without them the book was broken. I just accept that there are times I'm not an author, I'm an embedded journalist on a documentary trip to a world no one else can see.

  6. Interesting post! I have arguments with my characters on a regular basis. Sometimes I win, sometimes they do, and sometimes I wish I'd let them win because I have to go back and do it their way anyway. It's all about listening, isn't it? About finding that stillness, letting go of our inner dogma and being open to the whispers floating up from the stew of character, setting and imagery that's roiling about inside us.

  7. This is exactly how I feel about writing too! It's more about tuning into the story than planning it or imposing a structure upon it. It's one thing to tell your characters what to say – quite another to hear them talk back 😉

  8. I agree completely. That's exactly how it is for me. I used to, before I completed my first novel, wonder how Stephen King could write some of the stuff he writes. But now, I totally get it. Once it clicks, you're not really thinking about it. You're not really conscious. The characters just…do what they need to do and go where they need to go.

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