Friday, August 20, 2010

Ninja Drawing & Characters I Can't Let Go

I actually drew this picture maybe a year ago, but decided not to post it because I thought it might be spoilery. Well, I can't hold on to it any longer, and I figure it's not that bad. They could be glowing for any number of reasons, right?

If you're a writer (and I assume most of you who read this blog are), you know there are some characters who won't let you go. Tosh and Amy are a couple of mine. No matter how long it's been since I've worked on their story, they're always there talking to me. Even when I wish they wouldn't. Even when I can't write more about them. Even when I should be working on other things.

I love them. I really do. Yes, I love imaginary people. I'm a writer so I can be insane like that.

I often wonder why some characters stay with me as a writer. Why does Keira, my dragon girl, still call to me though I abandoned her story almost two years ago (holy crap it's been that long? ack.)? Why do Gil and Adair still bicker in my head or explain more about their weirdo steampunky world?

I don't really have an answer. Maybe you could say these are the stories I should write. Or maybe that I like them best. Or maybe these characters were just important to me at the time—helped me through rough moments, taught me things—and it's like visiting old friends. Even though we don't see each other often, when we do it's like we never parted.

Which characters do you still hold on to? Please share if you can so I don't feel as crazy.


  1. The book that first started me on my writing journey has never left me. And I've tried and tried to save it. But I can't. The characters are still there, and I wish to death I could save their stories. But I can't. They'll always be up there, the best friends that no one will ever know. The ones I can sympathize with most because they were so much me in so many ways.

    You're not alone in these sentiments.

  2. I have two characters who won't leave me alone either. :) When I was 18, I started co-writing a graphic novel with my friend. We never settled on a title, but we always referred to it as Robin and Lenore (and we also call each other Robin and Lenore--she's Robin, I'm Lenore).

    It was a pretty ambitious (and slightly pretentious) piece of work involving parallel world theory, Robin Hood retold, the King Arthur myth, ambiguous hoyay, and lots of other stuff. I still have sketches of the characters too.

    Robin and Lenore.


  3. Beautiful drawing, btw. And you're right, the glowing could be anything. (And it could be a literal representation in the art of something figurative in the book. That's how I'm going to look at it until this book is published and we can all learn the truth.)

  4. Don't feel crazy! Or rather, lets be crazy together :)

    I gave up on Lane's Girl a few years ago, but Lane and Rebecca are two of my loudest characters. Even on the drive into work this morning I was trying to figure out how to fix their world so that I could use them. They have been such a big part of my life I feel bad that I can't give them the book they deserve (yet).

  5. Ooo, pretty, JJ! I love your drawings:)

    Also, thanks guys, I'm glad I'm not the only one. Whew.

  6. There was a crotchety old history professor in my current novel that I had to cut. His class was too long, it didn't fit with the rising plot, blah blah blah. I still love that guy's wit. He still sometimes whispers lessons about the discovery of Lucy in the Afar depression or ancient Sumerian culture when I lie in bed at night, trying to still the voices and fall asleep ...

    Ah where was I? This was a wonderful post Natalie, thanks for reminding me that sometimes stories tell themselves.

  7. I don't think I've ever given up on my old stories/characters, to be honest... I mean, not the ones I "seriously" pursued, anyway. And I think it can be worlds that stick with you, as much as characters. At least, there's one of mine that I haven't let go of yet...

    - Madeline and Ma from The Good Daughters
    - Tina, Adam and Jill from Drops of Jupiter (just a project name, not a real title)
    - Olivia, Duncan and Isaac from Southlake

    These are people I KNOW I will come back to. Unfortunately I am not a ninja cyborg and I cannot write as fast as you or Kiersten, even at your "slower" paces. :P

  8. I haven't had too many characters from my past coming back to bother me, but in my current WIP my antagonist has been veryinsistent. You know, things like "I'm not so bad... why don't you make me the love interest? PLEASE make me the love interest? I'll be good to her... once I stop trying to destroy everything."

    This week he finally won out. I hope he'll stop bugging me now. :)

  9. The characters that don't leave me along have been following me since I was in high school. I pick them up every so often, but never commit to completing the story for some reason.

    It's great to know that I'm not the only one who has this problem though.

  10. I've been wondering that lately - when way down the road I am done editing this book and can't make any more changes, am I going to forever think of things that could have made the story better? I guess I have my answer!

    But I think if you have particular characters that keep coming back to you, you should write those conversations down. Maybe whatever is coming to you is something to build a "sequel," around, or maybe it's completely self-gratifying. Either way, I bet you'll feel a weight off your shoulders if you just kept a folder somewhere with all the random afterthoughts.

  11. Heh, I have some gymnasts with supernatural powers that are waiting patiently for me to work on their story again. I just loved the characters and their story too much to abandon them completely.

  12. this seems to be a popular theme on the blogosphere today. and i love it. even though i'm in sort of the opposite situation -- i'm wondering if it's time to let go of a certain set of characters to pursue a new manuscript. i'm wondering if their job was to just to teach, not to be published.....

    and i'm sure they'll still be with me many years from now.

  13. The characters from my very first attempt at a novel, way back when I was 12, still haunt me. Marya wants me to rework her story. I keep thinking I'll come back to it someday. She and her love interest Jeremy still live vividly in my mind; I still have occassional dreams with them.

  14. Tosh and Amy!! *sniff sniff* I remember when you drew that.

    Anna and √Čtienne still talk to me (or, more correctly, talk to each other). Every day. And I truly mean that I hear them jabbering about this-and-that. Usually, it's like a radio volume knob that I can turn up or down to hear them better, but sometimes the knob gets stuck with the volume on high. They are extremely persistent. And have opinions on everything.

    As far as characters I've held on to in spirit, that's easy: Lola. (And three other characters in her story.) We're about to have our TEN-YEAR anniversary this autumn! There have been so many times when I've thought her story was OVER and DONE forever, and it killed me to think their story would never be told or shared.

  15. Madame White, featured in my current WIP. She's an amalgamation of some particularly dark eastern folklore.

    She's only around for a few short chapters, but that doesn't limit the extent of her cruelty.

  16. I'm loving my current WIP and especially my main character. Yet...I'm still invested in two from my first book. The book is a disaster in itself, but someday I'm going to bring those two back to life. I loved them then and still do. (Hugs)Indigo

  17. I took a hiatus from my web novel,but I'm still invested in every character and I'm still having negotiations about when and how to write their story the best way possible. I mainly want to focus on Sasuke and Takun, the bromance of the century. They are so funny to me.

  18. Thanks for reminding me about that leg thing. I haven't done that leg thing in ages.

  19. I love the drawing!

    I wrote my first book when I was fourteen. It was a seven-hundred-page MESS. Or, what I now prefer to call a love ballad to JRR Tolkien. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right? I abandoned it long ago, but like your dragon girl, I can't keep the main characters -- twins -- from sneaking up on me with their big blue eyes and asking me why I don't go back and revise the crap out of their bloated excuse for a manuscript. It's so sad! Maybe they just remind me of what it was like to be fourteen and so proud that I was a "real writer." But their story needs a LOT of work, and I'm focused on other things now :( It's so hard to grow up and move on from things you love, but sometimes you just need the change . . . or a break!

    Glad to hear that other writers feel the same way!

  20. Well, there's Es. Her story never stops ending in my head, despite her abhorrence to heroics, she keeps on putting aside her fear to do the right thing. [Started in 2006]

    And what about Anne, who always wants to know why I never allowed her and Lawrence to fall in love? I try to tell her that they will, in the 4th or 5th book, but then I'm reminded that I never finished the 1st... [Again, started in 2006]

    Poor Rain. My spunky rockstar goes from drama to trauma and has yet to have a happy ending. Because I'm not sure yet what it will be. [2006]

  21. Ohhh I love that drawing! You're not the only one who loves invisible people (obviously, look at how many people commented...). I have a dystopian that I wrote last fall and when I'm trying to research for or edit some other project my MC pops into my head and points out stuff for her story instead. It's really quite obnoxious, but then, so is she...

  22. "I love them. I really do. Yes, I love imaginary people. I'm a writer so I can be insane like that."

    That made me laugh, great post!

    Yeah, my characters are practically my imaginary friends.

  23. My Kindle DX is named after a character in my first book, Mr. Benjamin.


  24. That is truly the most awesome picture ever. *swoons* I'm so in love with it! Its just... magic.

    I really, really can't wait to read Relax I'm A Ninja (when you get it published. Which you will. Because you're awesome. And anyone would be mad to turn away an awesome book like that from an awesome person like you.)

    Hmm, characters.... I suppose theres always Willow and Caleb, two people from a novel I started just after I was twelve. Um, I'm kinda of embarrased because I got 80,000 words into it when suddenly *BAM!* a new, fantastical gleaming story fluttered like a rare butterfly in front of my eyes and I begun my lunatic chase after it. Leaving Willow and Caleb yelling, weeping, calling after me in despair because I'd left them 5,000 words away from their happily ever after away from the evil spirits that had surrounded them. I'm now four months away from being thirteen and they still talk to me and beg me to write the end of their book.

    (Don't tell them, but I probably never will because it was cliched, repetitive garbage. :P)

    [Wow, I kinda go on a bit, don't I? xD]