A bridge over a beautiful waterfall

A bridge over a beautiful waterfall
Nature brings magic

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

"Orphaned" characters and ideas

My angel, my light, I bid you good night.”

I've had this line kicking around in my head for months. I've been looking for a home for it since it obviously belongs in a story somewhere. Except I haven't had much luck with finding one because it doesn't fit in with anything so far. Yet I don't want to leave it out in the cold. So I'm tucking it into the back of my mind to rest there until I find a place for it.

I end up with a lot of these “orphans”; lines that don't seem to have a place, bits of dialogue or the introduction to a character who has no home. A lot of these end up in a file on my hard drive that I back up frequently so I don't lose any of them. They're there for when I need them.

Sometimes I have a problem with creating too many characters for a story, and when I go back to edit these characters get cut. The scenes with them in them get cut, and many times those scenes will also end up in a file, on the chance that they will be needed again in a later story or a whole new book. I've converted characters between genres and added them to stories as needed.

I find that this is all part of my creative process, and an important one at that. My imagination rarely ever stops working, even when I'm not focusing on anything in particular. What I see, hear, and read ends up in my head and I mix a lot of those things together to create something new. I don't always have places for these new things, so I have to put them somewhere until I'm ready for them.

Take one of my sci fi stories, Fury. That actually started out as a random drivel I was going to post on my blog as a kind of serial. I didn't know much about Fury and her friends. In fact, I wrote a few scenes and decided I wasn't sure I liked it. So I tabled it. I kept the characters around, figuring I'd use them somewhere else. Then I had a dream that sparked something in my subconscious and those characters came out to play. I watched some episodes of Babylon 5, Firefly, and Serenity. I read a few sci fi stories and some interesting articles on technological advances. Fury came back to me and demanded another chance at being in the spotlight. The result was a (currently) 56k story dealing with a colonist and her struggles against the core worlds of her solar system. I think the story is coming out well, and I'm glad I listened when those bits and pieces I collected came together to form a new voice.

For all the writers out there, do you sometimes find “orphans” crop up in your plotting/writing? Do you find you have characters that need homes? Or am I alone and weird in this? ;)

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