15 August 2012

Imaginary Friends

by Robert Lopresti 

It has been an interesting summer, in many ways, but not least because I have been listening to a lot of fascinating conversations between people who, technically, don't exist.

I suppose that means that I am either in the middle of a first draft, or having a psychotic breakdown.  I think it's the former  but, hey, if it was the latter would I know?

I have written before about the fact that I started writing a novel last month and I hope you pardon me if I go back to the same old topic.  They say that writing a novel only teaches you to write that novel, and  I see the wisdom in that.  This book is coming a little different than my past efforts.  Mostly the characters are so damned lively.

I have heard thousands of writers talk about characters who come alive and develop minds and wills of  their own.  I have always said that doesn't happen to me, but this time it has come close.

Take Ray Ray, for instance.  I have mentioned him before.  He literally popped up from nowhere because I needed a delivery boy to make a chapter longer.  But the little rat seems to be trying to take over the book.  It makes a nice change from a lot of characters in the past who have seemed desperate to get out of my stories.

And then there is the computer nerd.  My book contains gtwo opposing groups and I knew that at some point the computer nerd was going to change sides.  Problem was, I had no idea what his motive would be for doing so.

But last week I was biking home one day, thinking about the fact that one of my major characters was due to die of natural causes.  It seemed like such a waste.  After all, this is a crime novel.   Why not have somebody kill the dude, seeing as he was about to die anyway?

And as I pedaled I realized who would want the fella dead, but this guy wouldn't do the killing himself.  Immediately another actor arrived on the stage in my skull, the hired killer, and she is as close as I have come to  that experience of having a character argue with me.  Techically she argued with the guy who hired her, refusing to fall into certain cliches of her profession.   Her employer had to respond by calling in his computer nerd --

And then I started laughing so hard I had to stop my bike.  I grabbed my notebook and started writing  brief outline for four more chapters.  Now I knew why the nerd changed sides.

So, like I said, it's been an interesting summer.  I assume at some point the inspiration will dry up and it will be a matter of grinding out the words.  Who knows whether the novel will ever get finished, much less published?    But it's a wild ride what it lasts...


  1. Yep, psychotic break, just like the man said.

  2. happiness is having what happens next in mind

  3. Thank God for the voices in our heads - otherwise, how would we be entertained? Let them have their way!

  4. Rob,don't you just love characters that write themselves? I'm working on the fifth Callie and am having a great time. Is this new one the book that you were writing during your lunch time at work?

  5. I'm glad I'm not the only lunatic writer in the family. Can't wait to read this book!

  6. I feel very close to my main characters - they are constantly in my thoughts and change their next moves often - and then I have to adjust to their new directions... thelma straw in manhattan . MWA-NY member

  7. Sounds like congratulations may soon be in order.

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