In a recent interview, bestselling author Tess Gerritsen, who is a pantser/organic writer, said this:
“I find that the most vivid characters are the ones you don’t think about too much because your subconscious takes over. I think that the most stilted characters were the ones I tried to do biographical sketches for.”
She spoke about how she did not do a character sketch for her main co-character, Jane Rizzoli, because she had planned to kill her off. But, by the end of the book, she had become interested in Jane and wanted to learn more about her, which she did by starring her in the next novel.
Thus the pantser approach to discovery by writing.
I agree with Tess’s notion because I’ve had similar experiences with characters I’ve created on the fly. And you read, now and then, of writers who declare that their “character just took over.” That’s your subconscious mind working in the background to pull things out of who and what you are to create richer, more real characters.
In my We the Enemy novel, that happened to me. In the opening chapter I had my protagonist rescue a woman from an assault. The scene’s purpose was primarily to characterize him as a man of action, just as the opening scene in The Raiders of the Lost Ark serves to introduce Indiana Jones as an adventurer and man of action.
Then the unexpected happened. The woman was “cannon fodder,” a character to be used and discarded. Not this woman. Nope, she followed my main character to thank him for her rescue. And she became the second lead character in the novel and plays a pivotal role. She sprang from my subconscious and grew from there.
I challenge you to read this novel
I’m still offering free ebook copies of We the Enemy because it explores alternatives to dealing with gun safety. A part of the fabric of the world is that gun and ammo manufacturers support gun safety laws rather than oppose them. You’ll have to read it to find out why.
Why the challenge? The way a number of issues are tackled—the 5th Amendment and justice in addition to gun violence—challenge the status quo, and could challenge the way you think about them. It’s not just escapist entertainment; there are things to chew on. Politically, people from both sides of the aisle will find things to love and things to hate—and to think about.
All I ask is that you pass it on.For what it's worth.
© 2012 Ray Rhamey