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The Pinocchio Phenomenon

posted in: Writing Craft | 8
By: SuperCar-RoadTrip.fr

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.

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Anne has received numerous awards for her imaginative storytelling and hopes you will "drop in" and visit from time to time at her website as her literary journey continues.

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8 Responses

  1. Dean Murphy
    | Reply

    Anne: Workers build houses, writers build worlds. Your characters carry some emotional baggage. Mine carry more than a major airline☺

    • Anne
      | Reply

      LOL! Well said!

  2. Dan Alatorre
    | Reply

    Good characters are friend we hate to say goodbye to. As readers, we can start the book over and there they are again! As writers, we get to continue them, in a second book, a series, or just as short stories for a blog. Readers might like that, too. Why deprive them – and yourself?

    • Anne
      | Reply

      You’re absolutely right, Dan! Thanks for posting!

  3. Stephen Kindland
    | Reply

    Very helpful and thought-provoking article, Anne. Thank you for posting it. I got to know the character that is you before I finished reading.

    • Anne
      | Reply

      Thanks, Stephen!

  4. Marisue Smith
    | Reply

    Thanks for the tip – I am working on my first fiction story and I can see where this is really going to help with my characters. Thanks again.

  5. Ed Ireland
    | Reply

    Anne: At a certain point in each telling, my characters take over. I become a stenographer rather than a writer. I have found that at times, they ask for more than I am willing to give. Their persistence will eventually give them their way. I recently killed off a character I was very invested in…and I’ve been put off of writing for a couple of weeks now. I just started tinkering with a new story yesterday. I guess Pinocchio doesn’t always have a happy ending.

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