Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Listening to Characters

Amongst short stories, poetry, and attempts at full length novels, some of the pieces of writing I'm most proud of are my Harry Potter fan fictions. I've never really chosen to discuss being a fanfiction author here, because for some reason the anonymity that comes with uploading chapter by chapter with a Potter-esque pseudonym is thrilling. Although they are not, and never will be my characters, I try and at least mould them into my own perception, and at least attempt to add to the 19 year gap between 'Flaw in the Plan' and '19 Years Later.' 

One of the greatest problems I've ever encountered [whether it be in fanfiction or my own creative writing] is being concerned that a person is out out of character; that I've wrongly manipulated the clay and they've instead emerged from a kiln as someone far different from who they are. 

Recently I wrote a story about Draco Malfoy. It's no secret that I'm not Draco's biggest fan, and warm far more to the likes of Ron and Hermione, but it felt like I could hear him somewhere in my brain. I wrote and wrote about this one thing that I could hear. Later, in the end author's note, this is what I said...

Sometimes characters, whether your own or not, talk to you. You hear them at the back of your head, and you listen. A couple of weeks ago, for the first time I heard Draco Malfoy talking to me, and I chose to listen to what he had to say. I’ve never written a fanfiction about Draco before now,  but somewhere in my brain, he spoke to me; and this is what he said. 

Because it's true. Sometimes characters do speak to you. At first the notion seems absurd, and completely improbable, but then it happens. It might be just a phrase, just a few words that they say, just a simple action; yet it can tell you everything you need to know in that moment. And yes, really it's part of your thinking process, but when you have stuck with characters for months, years, segments of your lifetime, it genuinely feels as if you do know them. As stupid as it sounds, what Draco said to me was one of the final lines in the story. I don't know where it came from or why I thought of it, but the character was present in my head, and suddenly everything made sense. I built a story that I had never expected myself to consider writing up from these few words, and created something I'm rather proud of. And the reason I'm proud of it is because I suddenly felt like after five years as a Potterhead, I wouldn't be insulting this character. Instead I had a story and words woven together that I knew could do this misunderstood Slytherin some justice.

Listen to your characters. Whether it's fanfiction, flash fiction, or a full length novel - just listen to them. Listen to what they have to say, because often, the characters that have developed somewhere deep within your thoughts know what they're going to say or what they're going to do next better than you, their puppeteer do. Even if they don't tell you things you need for your writing, they may tell you things that you need to hear yourself. 

Holly x


  1. This is so beautifully written and such a unique concept-- thank you for bringing me to this new perspective :3

    1. Thank you so much for your lovely comment! I'm so glad you took something away from this post!

  2. I LOVE this post Holly! It makes so much sense and the way you've written it is brilliant. Characters can be such a powerful force in our lives so we should definitely try our best not to shut them out. ❤


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