It started out as a gathering of ideas, a list of characters, and a setting. Happenings on paper that would become a work of fiction. But as my story evolved, the characters, settings, and events became more real to me than I ever imagined possible.
I learned about my characters as my story progressed, but I had a multi-level challenge. Not only did I have to know what I was telling the reader, I also had to know my characters on a deeper level. I had to know things about them that may never appear on the page in order for them to appear human, believable, and have distinct personalities. I spent time with each of them, discovering who they were and what made them tick.
I had to know something about what happened in their lives before they made an appearance in my story. When they made their entrance onto the page, they not only brought their physical baggage, they brought their personal baggage, too. While it may not be directly connected to the story, it colored their attitudes, behaviors, and actions when they arrived on the scene.
The Pinocchio Phenomenon revealed itself to me in a big way when I had to get my main character into trouble and expose her to significant danger. I don’t know how many times I had to get up and leave my computer, the room, and distract myself with some safe, mundane activity. Deep in my plotting mind, I knew Maggie would come out of it in one piece, but while she was in danger, I was genuinely fearful for her and felt responsible for the injuries she sustained in the world I’d created.
The denouement and final scenes were torture! How could I possibly say goodbye to the delightful, endearing characters I’d created? The tissues piling up in the wastebasket were all the evidence I needed to convince me that the Pinocchio Phenomenon exists. My characters were more than ideas typed onto a page—they’d become living, breathing, human beings and I was sad to see them go.