Who’s In Charge of This Story?

Whew. I just finished Inkdeath. It is a fat fat book. I’ve always loved the Inkheart books and how they make you think about being a writer and a reader. This one has quite a few moments where the author gives what I think is an incredibly accurate view of what’s going on in a writer’s mind. Fenoglio is a character in the story who is the author of the book that all of the characters have gotten sucked into. Now the story seems to have taken on a life of its own and he’s trying to get it back under his control. He has the worst case of writer’s block and sometimes can write down nothing but questions — he has no idea how things should go. He finally gets some of the story down on paper, but things never work out quite the way he thinks they will. The events he’s written about happen, but other things he wasn’t expecting at all happen too. So it starts to seem like maybe the story exists all on its own and he’s just recording bits of it, instead of making them up (something he NEVER believes, even though as you’re reading you start to feel that way). A lot of writers believe that stories exist outside of themselves and their job is just to try and write them down as well as they can — Stephen King talks a lot about this in On Writing. Other writers disagree completely and feel like they’re in control. What do other writers think?

In other news, the weekend was super fun. The kidlit bloggers first drinks night was on Friday at the Lucky Labrador. So great to see everyone and meet new people. On Saturday, Barrett and I went to a volcano — Mt. Tabor right here in Portland. Who knew we moved to a city that had a real live volcano in it? It was fun and the view was great, but it wasn’t terribly impressive volcano-wise. I think we’re going to have to head to Mt. St. Helen’s for that. We also went to an island — Sauvie Island just out of town and a bit up the river. Very nice and peaceful. Lots of crunchy leaves and things. There were even some cows. Plus, of course, we did lots of reading and I finished up Inkheart. One of the other books I’m reading is that new Rapunzel book by Shannon Hale Rapunzel’s Revenge. If you like cowboys, twisted fairy tales, and lots of hair (even used as a weapon!), then this is just the book for you.

Have a great week!


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  1. I’m of sort of a mixed mind about whether or not I’m in control or just channeling my characters. Certainly I have to do all the work!

    While I feel that I’m the creator of my stories, I also know that things stop working if I try to force a character to do something he or she doesn’t want to do. And there are those times when the characters just seem to take over, particularly when I’m writing dialog. One thing I’m sure of—my characters are real. They might not live in this space and time, but they’re real.

  2. Hi Lisa! I totally agree — it is hard to think that you’re characters aren’t real. They seem to have a mind of their own. Plus, when you read about other people’s characters they take on dimensions that I’m sure the author never intended.

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