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Jan 21st, 2015
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  1. "At first glance, the activities of an adult fiction writer might seem far removed from those of a child playing with an imaginary companion… However, when we surveyed accounts of the writing process, we were struck by the number of authors who described having personal relationships with their characters and imagined conversations with them.
  3. For example, Francine de Plessis Gray described her characters as sleeping in her bed with her and sometimes waking her up to ask about her plans for their future. Alice Walker reported having lived for a year with her characters Celie and Shug while writing the novel The Color Purple. Walker writes, “Just as summer was ending, one or more of my characters—Celie, Shug, Albert, Sofia, or Harpo—would come for a visit. We would sit wherever I was, and talk. They were very obliging, engaging, and jolly. They were, of course, at the end of their story but were telling it to me from the beginning.” […]
  5. In these accounts, writers describe their characters as autonomous beings who exist and act outside of their authors’ control and have minds of their own. They arrive fully formed in the mind’s eye and are resistant to change. For example, when J. K. Rowling […] was asked in a National Public Radio interview […] “I never write and say, ‘OK, now I need this sort of character.’ My characters come to me in this sort of mysterious process that no one really understands, they just pop up.” […]
  7. Sometimes characters are described as having definite opinions about the narrative in which they live. They aregue with the author about the direction the novel is taking and their actions in it. […] Sara Paretsky described making a deal with her recurring character V. I. Warshawski. The story line in her novel Hard Time required that Warshawski go to prison where she was beaten up, tortured, and almost killed. V. I. “refused” to go along with this until the author promised to give her true love in exchange. Similarly, Philip Pullman […] described having to negotiate with a particularly proud and high strung character, Mrs. Coulter, to make her spend some time in a cave at the beginning of The Amber Spyglass.
  9. In some accounts, the fictional characters do not limit their opinions to the world of the novel. They also provide unsolicited advice about matters concerning the author’s real life..."
  11. Excerpt from "The Illusion of Independent Agency : Do Adult Fiction Writers Experience Their Characters as Having Minds of Their Own" in Imagination, Cognition and Personality.
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