Creators who work with characters and stories: Do you have an active inner voice (self-talk, internal criticism and such), and do your fictional characters often seem to have a will of their own (argue with you, won't follow your plan)?

Just poking at a thought that arose out of a conversation where someone speculated on a connection between having a strong inner voice and willful characters. I've always had both and kind of assumed that was true of everyone, but realized that might be a false assumption and got curious!

@ljwrites Hmm. No inner voice but I'm not sure about self-willed characters. As I write, they very often do not follow my plans. However I have never had conversations with them. What should I vote?

@vicorva definitely counts as self-willed by my intention, the examples were not "and" but "or!" (Should have gotten that across better oops)

@ljwrites Thank you! Okay, I will vote now. ^_^ Excited to see what the numbers are!

@vicorva I think you're the first respondent, or one of very few, with no inner voice but with self-willed characters, so I am excited! :D

@ljwrites oh really?

I was surprised how low it was tbh ... I guess most folk with characters that go off-plan constantly have some kind of dialogue with them?

@vicorva It's one way my characters' self-will manifests for me, which was why I thought they might be an offshoot of the writer's inner voice--I'm fascinated to find that's not necessarily true.

@ljwrites well I suppose it depends on how you define self-will, which is one reason I was uncertain how to vote. Because are the characters choosing differently by not following the plan, or am I? I certainly feel surprised by it when it comes up (though it always seems to make sense), but without the characters 'talking' to me I don't know how well it fits.

@vicorva hmm that's true, I would personally view that as self-will but I'm not sure how definable it is in the first place. Maybe that accounts for the lower percentage of creators saying their characters are self-willed--it may have been stated too restrictively in the poll question.

@ljwrites I think it's difficult in limited space on these polls to define things exactly as intended unfortunately. I wasn't completely sure whether my experience counted, but I don't think that was a failure of how you used the available space.

@vicorva yeah good poll design is hard! As you know better than I, from your crowdfunding poll :D

@ljwrites before I did my first kickstarter I did a google forms poll and oh heck did I learn how hard it is to get useful results

Alas I have not yet learned how TO get useful results 😅

@vicorva saaaame. I thought your poll results were still really interesting though! It was also bittersweet to see you discuss audiobook as a possible backer gift/level in that post, rip.

@ljwrites I am reasonably certain my ability to get really into character during RP, having willful characters, the inner voice thing, and being plural are all related for me

@nisima Ooh I can definitely see how they can all be connected.

Most of the time I don't have plans for my characters, just a vague idea on where they are going. But what they do to get to it is often based on their personality. I don't feel that I'm pushing them into what I want them to do, it just appears normal for them to do so and I get along with it. I hope this is what you meant by self-will

@von yup that's definitely included in self-will, too! I really have to stop assuming everyone works the same way I do >.<

@ljwrites wow I'm in the minority of this one. 😅 😂

@maloki ooh, which one? I have an active inner voice and self-willed characters, and I honestly expected to be in the majority lol.

@ljwrites no inner voice, strong characters 🤔
They just take over and write their own story.

@ljwrites at least when I'm like really into fiction writing with characters I am not in control, I don't ponder my word choices or critique myself. I think that when I first wrote a novel, it was NaNoWriMo and we built a little python tool to not see what you're writing but save every word as you write. 😅

@ljwrites I remember being like "what? You're religious!? No one told me." while writing a scene. 😅

@maloki Omg that happens to me all the time too! I love it when I find out new things about characters or they do unexpected things. Also you and @vicorva both fall in the "no inner voice, self-willed characters" category :D

@vicorva @ljwrites oh wow the numbers changed! I guess really votes were other types of writers 🤔

@maloki @vicorva Okay the sample is small but I am *fascinated* that currently, writers with no inner voice are likelier to have self-willed characters than writers with inner voices! This is the exact opposite of my original hypothesis, awesome!

@ljwrites @maloki it's definitely an interesting data set so far. Excited to see more results tbh!

@ljwrites less a self-will and more I realize they would do something else as I get into their head, regardless of where the story was going

@ljwrites I think my inner voice actively puts itself away when I'm writing, and my characters are very self-willed. (Opposite when I'm editing for a redraft.)

Getting into a good writing zone feels a little like...the story's already There, and I'm simply a keyboard-wielding conduit that can make it visible. If that makes any sense. :blob_cat_melt:

@badger omg much envy at the inner voice going quiet at the writing stage! Mine basically Never shuts up. And yes, it is the best when I feel like a tourist or a spectator as though I'm recording, rather than creating, the story.

@ljwrites I definitely think taking part in NaNoWriMo helped me improve at pushing the inner voice into a different space until I needed it. :blob_cat_melt: It wasn't really something I ever thought about before, so this poll (and replies) was really interesting!

@badger Oh I'm so glad it worked out for you that way! :D I love hearing about other creators' processes and mindsets, the commonalities and differences fascinate me.

@ljwrites I'm a bit torn on the self-willed characters thing. They don't interact with me but that doesn't mean they don't surprise me with what they do sometimes, or that there's a scene that comes into existence without being in the plan.

@Magess I definitely count surprising the creator as being self-willed, I just assumed my more, um, adversarial process was universal so that was my bad 🙏

@ljwrites Ah, well, I guess I voted wrong then. Mostly my process occurs as a sort of daydreaming + acting scenario wherein there is a scene occurring and I inhabit one or more of the people involved to speak their lines and that's how I know what they say. By being them when they say it.

@Magess Oh well, no such thing as a perfect poll question or results! Do you also roleplay or do improvisational theater, or similar? I roleplayed (ttrpg) for a long time and find myself using some of the same mental muscles when I write fiction, by inhabiting the characters and setting them into motion in the background.

@ljwrites No, I actually think I'm terrible at those things. I think I'm too self-conscious to do any of it when there are other people around.

@Magess oh yeah, fair, and those are far from the only ways to inhabit or be characters as you prove!

@ljwrites Inner voice, self-willed. I never actually wrote any of my stories down, so they are all inside my head.

I tend to ask my characters directly about their stories... I changed the ending of my characters like 5 times by now.

@octonine Ooh, I'm in the same category! Your case makes me glad I didn't restrict this to "writers" but went more broadly with "stories and characters." So do your characters, like, change their stories when asked again? xD

@ljwrites They do give some ideas... but I have to start writing it down (at least the concepts) cause I don't remember what I created and what they changed anymore. :GalaxyBlobLaugh:

@octonine lol yeah, writing it down does seem like a good idea. And now I'm imagining your characters sneaking behind your back to change the story :P

@ljwrites I'm not sure I understand the inner voice concept. Actually, I rather often talk to myself aloud when plotting and/or brainstorming. This often happens on my daily lunch walks, and people sometimes look at me strange. 😆 Does it count as inner voice?

Also, do characters necessarily have to talk back? :)

@SeventhMagpie innie or outie, but for voices! xD I think vocalized self-talk counts, my own head-voice spills out sometimes too!

And no, the characters just need to have a degree of independence or be perceived as such, the backtalk thing was just added as an example from personal experience and I am heartily regretful of the confusion and likely tainting of results it caused 😭

@ljwrites It's just this problem solving thing, I think. You often find a solution when you've taken your time to formulate the issue. :) Personally, I do it better in either writing or in speech. Hence, talking to myself. :)

As for the degree of character independence... hmm... I think I understand what you mean. It's something like: "Fight! I want you to shout at each other!!" And they just coo at each other, and the scene goes not as planned. 😆 Yes, this happens. :)

@SeventhMagpie Yes! I love being surprised in this way :) I wondered if it was correlated with self-talk, but any relationship, if there is one, seems to be much more complex than I originally thought.

@ljwrites I don't think it's correlated with self talk. These are different fields, imo. Self talk helps you organise things, put them into perspective, maybe solve some issues.

And characters hijacking scenes is, in my personal experience, usually a result of what I've written prior to that. It's like... I don't know... a labyrinth. :) Depending on where you make your turn, you arrive at a different place. :) For me it usually driven by dialogues, with which characters can drag me somewhere.

@ljwrites I'm always having arguments with my characters, and have had a few strong conversations with them about choosing to go off and do their own thing.

That's why, for the most part, I'm a pantster not a scripter.

@AlexW yuuup I think of myself as in-between, like I do have broad outlines of a plan, but recognize they may not survive contact with the characters.

@ljwrites I tend to plot in my head rather than on paper, and am one of those who creates film reels. I then edit and splice accordingly.

It's when I get to the put it on paper stage that characters start the pouting.

@AlexW lol they were fine at the film stage, they should have said something then!!

@ljwrites Yeah, the can get downright cranky if they think they've got the starring roll and then, find out they're only a bit player who dies in the first chapter! 😆

@ljwrites Sometimes I think arguing with them is helpful, because, after all, what we're doing is exploring how the characters might think in any given circumstance.

@AlexW yup, sometimes the dialogue with the characters just gets a little more literal! :blobcat_giggle:

@ljwrites If we don't think of them as real, and have these conversations, how do we expect our readers to believe in them?

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