Many writers admit that their plot has been interrupted by the entrance of a new character. Often, too, the characters reveal their names. I've ended up with some odd names for characters --Hippolyta, for example-- and if you don't let them have their own way, they will fight you throughout the novel. This new interloper in The Ghost Doll says his name is Oscar. Fine, but not just Oscar: his name is Oscar Maier. Accepting though I might be of auto-creationism in fiction, I could only shudder. Sure, the surname was spelled differently than the commercial product, but a character named Oscar Maier is necessarily a weenie. And why would there be a weenie in my lovely, dark ghost story? Unless the story had changed itself when I wasn't looking. It wanted a little humor perhaps? It didn't want to take itself so seriously.
In a way it was a relief. Spending the next year or so writing a dark book didn't sound like much fun -- and clearly the book agreed. Once I let Oscar into the story, it flowed. better. Suddenly there was banter instead of all that tedious introspection. I discovered that Oscar was Liz Venables' half-brother. Admittedly, he a weenie, but good-natured, not too bright, dangerously inept, generous, spacy and gay. Liz needed someone like Oscar in her life to keep her spirits up in order to confront everything I plan to send her way.
Och! Whit leam kithen thro' yonder windae? (But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks?)It's a good sign, though. When writers have to chase after characters, it must mean their books are alive, and their stories are playing out almost independent of governing hands. Weenie or not, Oscar tells me I've tapped into the source and I'd better stand back and let it flow. Knowing that writer may have little more control over the story than the reader keeps me humble, and reminds me to honor the Muse, whatever she may send my way.
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