Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Playing Whack-A-Mole with Your Characters

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde po...Image via Wikipedia
I have heard that this happens to writers, but it had never happened to me before. Well, there's always a first time. I was working on a short story and one of the main characters, a gal named Sylvia, kept trying to become Rita. Every time I went back and edited the manuscript, Sylvia had managed to morph into Rita in a paragraph or two. Sure there's spell check, but writer's often embellish their work as they edit, and if I introduced any new prose, up popped Rita. I was so fixated on extinguishing Rita I failed to notice that Frasier had become Frazier. Sneaky bastard. He just changed his name as easily as Dr. Jekyll became Mr. Hyde.

I blame Elizabeth George for this second mutiny. I was reading her book, This Body of Death, when I was writing the story. She has a character named Frazer who was I presume, for some nefarious purpose known only to him, trying to escape her tale and enter mine. Why would he do this? George is a famous writer and I am just a sniveling scribe by comparison. Perhaps he thought he'd have more control over me because I am less experienced. Who knows? Characters, as every writer knows, are willful children, pesky, opaque, malicious. unrelenting, stormy and stubborn as mules. People who don't write fiction think we have total control over these creations. Ha! I am planning to give Rita voice in another story. I hope that will make her happy and she will behave. I am still not speaking to Frazer/Frazier/Frasier. I could get even by changing his name to Lemuel. What do you think?
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