While haikujaguar is far more commonly having dialogues with her characters than I am, it does happen to me every so often. (I remember many, many years ago, when I was writing the novella The Lighthouse, visiting yippee in Gainesville and having a distinct dream impression of Revar, the story’s protagonist, sitting on the couch I was sleeping on reading the manuscript.)
About two years ago I had an idea for a story/novel, loosely connect with a story idea I had two years before that, that I never quite got anywhere with. I had a main character—and wrote a vignette about her—and world notes. And world notes. And world notes. The story never really got anywhere, and I decided it was because I’d come up with too much background. That may sound odd, but I’ve always been the kind of storyteller who focuses much more on characters, and I tend to build worlds the way movie companies build sets: there’s enough there to tell the story convincingly, but there’s not much beyond that. This time, I’d ended up with three societies with competing political interests and a sweeping story arc that would have to turn their philosophical differences into physical fights. And this is all well and good for a roleplaying setting, but I didn’t have any other characters. I didn’t even have much about the woman in the vignette (she’s named “Dark Sky” in my notes) other than knowing her personality.
Well. The last week or two I’ve been sleeping better and dreaming substantially more, even though they’re dreams that tend to fade immediately upon waking. Falling asleep a couple nights ago I thought about this shelved novel idea, and Dark Sky showed up to listen as I ran through about what I said in the last paragraph.
“But that wasn’t the problem,” she says.
“No. Your problem is that I’m part of the story, but I’m not the person you’re telling the story about.”
Then who’s the main character?
“That rat girl is,” she says, gesturing to the rat girl.
“Hey,” says the rat girl, giving a wave.
Technically, I know the rat girl, but from another context—she’s never had anything to do with Dark Sky at all. I point this out.
“It’s not my fault you didn’t make the connection. Hey, you’re not attached to all those notes from two years ago, right?”
Um… no, not really.
“Great. We’ll talk later.”