Everyone who loves books love the magic of getting the chance to become another character as they move from page to page. As the essence of the story gets to them, they bond with the protagonist, feel their hearts, see through their eyes, even fall in love with their love interest, entertain their attitude and thoughts, relate to their humanity, experience tears leaking out of their eyes when the character does, have a desire to slap the character for bitchiness or jerk-o-sity etc.
The mental form of the reader travels along with the heroine/hero, escaping into a world that readily welcomes them with open arms. No novel will ever require a security check or a VIP pass or a full body scan to grant entry into its realm. While we humans are reclusive and don’t entertain people snooping into our privacy, books are the total opposite. They want you to snoop in. They want you to know everything there is to know about them. They want you to stalk them.
The very fact people scrounge as many information about the characters as they could so they are capable of answering even their trivial desires when asked by anyone any time is all it takes for a novel to be branded as a national or international best-seller. A success of a book is brought out only when readers wish to drink in every single factor. Admit it, Potterheads, you can answer what is Hermione Granger’s Boggart in a second, can’t you? (If anyone enthusiastically answers that in the comment section below, I present you an ice-cream ❤ )
Are you wondering why I am elaborating on the bond between a character and a reader so much, when it has a confusing link with the title? Because I intend to turn the essence of the blog post around to the opposite perspective, the bond between the characters and the author. You see, in the readers’ vision, the impression is that the author has done a good job of stringing the scenes together and wrapping the story up neatly in the end.
But do they know the author isn’t the boss of the story at all? Do they know it was the characters they love that drove the chariot?
This is entirely based on my personal experience. I think it is the same for other authors out there, too. Here I share what it’s like for me.
The journey I’ve encountered with my fictional babies is something contrary to what I initially thought I’d acquaint myself with. When I took the easy decision of staying home as a full-time writer to work on my new series, I was so sure I was going to sketch everything out word for word and instil various personalities of my own. The protagonist is a girl and as her creator, mother and astrologer at the same time, I believed I had the sole right to determine which source will make her happy, which source will sadden her, which source will torture her, which source will do whatever to her. I was the one to create this whole world for her to live in, a place that doesn’t exist anywhere else except the pages of a word document (and hopefully in the pages of a paperback or hardback soon). It was the diplomacy of making everything right in this place that pressurised me for a while. How was I going to bring this out? How was I going to administrate the events that I was willing to churn out of my musings? Will everything go as I desired? Will I do a good job of finding the appropriate reasons behind each and every argument and controversy that will originate?
So many queries razed my mind as I sat tapping a pen against my writing desk and staring hard at the portrait of Lord Krishna hanging on my wall. The notebook open in front of me encompassed scribbles, cross-outs, and fresh plot ideas that had several holes in them. What was I going to do? How was I to fill in the blanks within a short period? I couldn’t wait to get started on this dream project but the fear of ‘incompletion’ ate at me. I’m insanely prim and proper when it comes to novel writing. Not a single loose end should be left untied, is my motto, and I try my utmost best to follow it.
At the same time, the voice in the back of my mind – the voice that every single human being should really, really listen to – screamed Will you stop driving me crazy and just start writing?
So I heeded to its words and discovered the magic between the author and character.
The magic is nothing but the reality that the author isn’t the boss of the story at all.
Believe me when I say it is the characters who take the writer across. This wasn’t a realm I created. It was a realm they already existed in.
I know this sounds loony but I have this impression stories linger in the atmosphere. Like, they are hovering invisibly in the air we breathe and the characters that contain them will choose the writer they prefer to use their literary knowledge to showcase them to the rest of the world. I know, weird right? But that’s my middle name unfortunately and I had a warm feeling when my baby girl chose me as her mother.
I always think about what other stories are sailing in the biosphere and who they will chose to be brought out through.
As I kept writing, new people inserted themselves from God-Knows-Where, ignoring my surprise of how perfect their role was in the plot that slowly began shaping up. There were a lot of concepts I hadn’t thought of before that designed themselves meticulously.
I was learning this place as I write.
The characters were dictating me about their ways, customs and traditions.
I was nothing but their personal puppet.
And damn happy about it.
I felt honoured to surrender to them.
The affairs and circumstances unravelled themselves of their own accord, fitting into the slots they were destined for.
That’s what I love about story writing so much.
You have this tiny little idea for a tale and when you ignore the outside world and sit with that one character that attracted you, you are blessed with an enjoyable experience that will take you on a ride you will never forget. This isn’t about producing a paperback that you want to make money out of. This isn’t about housing worries about reader reviews.
That is the very last thing that should be on your mind.
You write for your pleasure.
A satisfaction that gifts peace for your soul.
I love how my girl ignores some plans I have for her and stubbornly stays in going her own way. She is alive. She has a mind of her own. So I delight in granting her the reins of the chariot and tour me around her home as well as her life and thoughts. And I love how a character changes their personality in junctures I aim to bring out the worst or best in some other character. It’s like they go Excuse me, but I think this is my call.
All in all, being an author and spending all day with people that don’t exist is extremely wonderful. I have learnt to not stress over sketching clear cut outlines for the last two books and just see what happens as I circle each and every phase around a few crucial episodes. Let’s see what new things my baby has in store for me and what sides of her I am yet to know. She can be warm, strict, generous and demanding at the same time. She knows when to block me from going any further and offer to take the wheel.
I have surrendered myself to her.
I think I’m going to cry when I hit the full stop on the last word of the last sentence of the last paragraph of the last page of the last chapter of the last book.
This has been a beautiful experience so far with her and I don’t think I’m ready to leave her alone any time soon. But I have to leave her alone at one stage.
Just not ready to face it.
Just not ready to face the day she will relinquish me from her hold.
It’s going to break my heart.