Immigration of Characters

I was sitting here trying to figure out what to write — I’ve had so many guest bloggers lately, I’m out of the habit of writing my own bloggeries — when I received an email from a friend with an attached article that she wanted me to check over. It was so clever and true it made me smile. We all have characters who deserve to immigrate to a better place than in our heads or on our computers. More to the point, she’s letting me post her article, saving me the trauma of having to think of something to write. Here’s what my friend Sylvia McKye say sabout the immigration of characters:

I write, as do many writers, because I enjoy writing.  I take pleasure in telling stories and taking people on adventures via my stories.  I have voices and ideas in my head.  It gets crowded in there; I need these clamoring characters to immigrate.  Onto my computer screen is the perfect new world for them. Rarely are they happy there, though.  They want a larger world.  They want to travel; they want to see and be seen.  These characters are determined; they have visions of the wide world of places like Barnes and Noble in which to sow their wild oats.  A few are truly ambitious and, having a high opinion of themselves, dream of traveling to New York and make the rounds socially-on the ‘A’ list, of course.  One or two have even mentioned being on the ‘A’ list will help them realize another dream, living on the silver screen.  Once they’ve done that, then they want to settle down on a nice little cozy bookshelf somewhere. 

So what’s a beleaguered writer to do?  Help them immigrate, of course. 

As a writer, I’ve in effect given birth to them and I’m emotionally attached to them.  I’ve raised them to be tough and strong, to set goals and dream.  I applaud their ambition.  I love my characters, so I start the paper trail to help them realize their dreams and ambitions.  However, immigration laws for characters have become tough in the past ten years.  There’s so much red tape involved.  Character immigration is a tough business all around. Getting through to the Character Immigration Officers is daunting.  

I get frustrated because some of these CIO’s reject my characters without even giving them a chance.  I polish them, provide my characters with a new wardrobe, take care with accessories-because appearances are everything in this world-and try again.  I provide them with the right background and setting and still they get rejected.  Some of these CIO’s want clear-cut categories to pigeonhole them.  A certain background.  Some of my characters don’t fit into a particular category-they are people after all-much less a set background.  Some of my characters do, but still aren’t accepted.  My characters are upset and I’m frustrated.  Because I’m attached to them, it bothers me when they’re rejected.  Meanwhile, I have a small town of characters living on my computer, and more in my head.  Will I stop creating?  No.  Will I stop trying to help my characters to immigrate?  No, again.  

I have invested in some tough Rhino skin for my characters and myself.  It’s survival.  I have no intention in giving up on finding homes for my characters.  But rejections hurt you as an author.  They can’t help but hurt us because we have created these characters and invested time and emotion in them.  Rejections are a normal process of the querying your novels and stories.  Some published authors say they’ve received enough rejection letters they could’ve papered their bathroom walls.  That’s a lot of rejections. 

Some of these published authors made it through the red tape of Agents and Editors and gotten their stories published with traditional publishing houses, others investigated smaller publishers and went that route, and still others have settled in nicely with POD publishers.  They did this because they believed in their abilities to tell an entertaining story and a desire to take readers on an adventure.  They enjoy writing. 

The point is, these are published authors and they didn’t give up. They obviously invested in some tough Rhino skin as well so as not to be discouraged to the point of not writing or querying their stories.  Persistence has its rewards.   They’ve networked and marketed aggressively. Even after getting a contract, they continue working on building and keeping a strong reader base by perfecting their skills as a storyteller. 

For these published authors, their characters have emigrated from the world in their heads and their computers to New York and hit the ‘A’ list-the Best Sellers list.   Some of the authors have had their books optioned and have seen their characters make it to the movies. Some of their characters have starred in TV movies or series. Their characters have happily found homes in Borders and Barnes and Noble.  Others are happily ensconced on a nice cozy bookshelf in someone’s home.  

There are many success stories out there.  The question is, will you stay the course and help your characters immigrate?  Where will your characters end up?  Will they immigrate or end up spending their life with you?

As for me, I’m determined to help my characters immigrate.

3 Responses to “Immigration of Characters”

  1. ~Sia~ Says:

    Pat, you always say such nice things. I’m glad you enjoyed the article. It was fun to write and came after a discussion with another writer.

    I’m looking forward to seeing your books soon. How exciting for you. Just think, one day I’ll be able to say, “I knew her way back when she wasn’t published.”

    ~Sia McKye~

  2. joylene Says:

    I stayed the course, Sia, and it was a dream come true. Course, nobody told me about marketing. But, despite the horrors of putting myself out there, it’s music to my ears when my readers email to say they loved my protagonists.

    Thanks for sharing.

  3. Pat S. Says:

    Wonderful article, Sia! Such a terrific way of looking at our characters! Mine will likely be homebodies, just another mouth to feed. Maybe one of these days I can get them to think about immigrating! Pat, thanks for posting Sia’s article. Loved it!

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