Talking to your Characters

Blog October 2022 (2)

Photo by Meruyert Gonullu on

Following on from my earlier discovery that a board of characters could be a useful reference point, I turned again to the remnants of my magazines and leaflets for inspiration when I needed a scenario in which estranged parents would be brought together to rethink their relationship.

There it was, right in front of me, in an advertisement for wheelchairs. A girl smiled at me as she used her hands to turn the wheels.

Perfect. I had the perfect catalyst. What parent would not come running back to the family nest if their child was injured?

It seemed so simple at first but then I looked more closely. This child looked back at me and I didn’t know how to write her story. In earlier chapters we have met her parents individually. We know their foibles and their shortcomings. We understand the inevitability of their separation.

But I caught myself looking at the picture and addressing the child as ‘You’.

I don’t know yet what happened to you. I know you were a healthy baby earlier in the story.

Did you develop an illness?

Your mother had horses, did you fall from one of them, or were you kicked?

Are your injuries permanent or are you only bound to this wheelchair for a few chapters?

In some bizarre way, I start to feel responsible for you.

And your sister? Where is your sister?

You were very close last time I knew you. You romped together through the wild meadows of southern France. Where are those carefree children now?

Do you resent her still being able to run? Does she suffer survivor guilt?

I seem to have been led into this situation that I didn’t envisage, by a character who was never real.

Only now do I start to understand the logo on my writing group tee-shirt.

‘Writers Block…when your characters stop talking to you.’

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