Which Came First: The Story Or The Character?

Hello, hello!  One of the questions that authors often get asked is whether the story or the character came first.  It’s basically the writer’s version of the chicken or the egg causality dilemma, but there’s no satisfying scientific explanation for it.  There are actually a lot of different answers depending on who you ask, and in my experience, the answer is usually a little different for each story as well as each writer.  It’s part of what makes writing unpredictable and fun.  Even if I fall into a writing rhythm (which I like because it makes the words come easier), the path getting there is always a tad different.

chicken-before-the-egg
I thought a writerly version was more appropriate than the other cartoons I found.

For me, I usually get a nagging voice in my head that turns into someone who wants to tell me their story.  The story is full of plotholes and vague connections and is nothing worthy of paper, but I can’t tell them that.  They also have a tendency to talk about other people like I should know who these people are (pretty sure we all know someone who talks like that).  Gradually, a cohesive story forms in my head and new voices pop up to fill in the holes.  If I haven’t started writing by this point, it goes into a list of ideas to work on after my current project is done.  That almost always quiets the voices enough that I can get my other work done.

MYT6q3IZiIlRS.gif
To everyone who assumes I know everyone you do.

I guess that means that my answer is that characters and stories have a tendency to come simultaneously to me.  Those are also usually the stories that are easiest for me to write down.  But I will say that I don’t need a fleshed out story to start as long as the voice in my head is strong enough.  I can’t work on a story when the characters aren’t there, so even though they might not technically come first, characters are the most important element to me.

Don’t get me wrong, though.  I do occasionally have a voice that pops into my head without a story to tell (they’re my favorites, but don’t tell the others).  These are the ones I talk to at night when I can’t sleep, so I learn so much more about them.  I tend to keep them around until I find a story to slip them into.  I also have a few plots and worlds that have built themselves with no solid characters to take the reins (but these are rare).  So, like I said, each story gets born a little differently for me.

tumblr_ncqfgjb0St1tp42tfo1_500
Just in case you were wondering about my sanity.

That’s how it usually works for me.  The story and character more often than not happen simultaneously, but not always.  What about you?  Do the voices in your head tell you their stories?  Maybe they just prefer to have random chats until you find homes for them.  Or perhaps the plot comes to you and demands you create people to act it out with.  Whatever your experience, feel free to share your thoughts or stories here or on my social media pages!

How To Survive The First Few Days After An Election

Hello, hello!  By the time this post gets published, America will have a new president (or at least be in the final stages of deciding).  If you’re anything like me, you didn’t like any of the candidates and you’re beyond tired of hearing about them and seeing their faces splashed all over your social media sites.  But today, and for the foreseeable future, you’ll only have to deal with one of them.  That means for the rest of the week (until something else distracts everyone), your social media will be full of the winner’s supporters bragging and the loser’s supporters complaining (because there’s no such thing as a graceful win or loss in this election).  So, how are we, the ones with nothing important to say on the matter, supposed to survive until the next big thing comes along to distract everyone?  Here are three handy tips to help you keep your sanity.

informed-sanity
That’s what I’ve been struggling with myself.

 1. Snuggle up with Netflix or your DVR/TiVo or a book, etc.  I’m not going to tell you to avoid social media altogether, but make sure you temper your exposure with healthy doses of entertainment.  Netflix has the advantage of avoiding all things annoying simply by clicking play.  Or just read a book if you prefer something besides screen time.  If you want to watch TV or the news, do yourself a favor and record it, that way you can skip through the things you want to avoid while keeping up with everything else.  You can do the same with a newspaper or magazine.  There are ways to stay informed without being over-exposed to certain things.

good-guy-netflix-meme-2
Watch another episode!  Don’t be a quitter.

 2. Do all the things!  You know that stuff you’re supposed to be doing when you’re scrolling through Facebook?  Now is the perfect time to do all of it.  Do the laundry.  Clean the kitchen.  Catch up on your NaNo writing.  You can be productive and avoid the post-election uproar all at once.  Truth be told, I’m actually avoiding the last of the pre-election voter smugness (I’m happy you’re happy you voted, don’t get me wrong, but some people take it too far when they think it makes them and their candidate of choice superior) by writing this post.

3. Surround yourself with cute animals.  There’s never a wrong time to look at cute little animals.  If you’re into cat videos, the Internet is rife with them.  Dogs are everywhere too.  You can find bats and birds and even adorable snakes.  It’s all just a search away.  Who can stay annoyed when looking at those kawaii wittle faces.  Even I get happy when faced with the cuteness of doom.

a9png20_700b
It’s a Dapper Danger Noodle!
111
Look at those big eyes!  Batties are adorable!

 I’m sure there are other ways to maintain your sanity over the next few days, but this is what I will be doing.  Do you have any plans or tips for avoiding the insanity of it all?  I suppose being a recluse is the most helpful thing during these times.  Stay safe and sane.

See you next week.