We often hear about the importance of a writer belonging to a critique group. Over six years ago, ICFW's Shirley Corder founded a non-fiction group called Truth Talk. I had the privilege of being one of the five initial members. Shirl and I lived in South Africa, but our homes were two days' drive apart. Jan and Yvonne were on opposite sides of America while Elaine lived in a small English village.
None of us had broadband or Skype in those days, but strong bonds of friendship developed among us as Truth Talk emails flew to and from our computers. We honed our writing skills, prayed together and became a close-knit unit supporting each other in our daily lives.
After several years I visited England with my husband and younger daughter. Elaine's village was one of the proposed places on our itinerary as a much loved aunt also lived there. I asked Elaine for her phone number and we planned to meet if possible.
I called Elaine from my aunt's house. I waited for her to pick up the phone and my anticipation grew as I imagined a flurry of excited squeals of joy and laughter as we spoke to each other for the first time.
Elaine answered my call and I said, "Hello, Elaine, this is Ruth speaking."
There was no response.
"Hello, Elaine. Are you there?"
Still no response.
I was about to put the phone down when she spoke to me in a rather vague manner. I was nonplussed by her initial lack of reaction, but as we chatted the words came tumbling out. Elaine gave me directions to her house and later I visited her. It was so good to meet her at long last and give her a big hug.
Later I discovered the reason for Elaine's stunned silence. She had been totally immersed in the story world of the book she was writing. As she wrestled with a dilemma involving one of her key characters, who happened to be called Ruth, her phone rang. When she answered the call she was startled to hear a voice saying, "Hello, Elaine, this is Ruth speaking." Her first reaction was that her character had phoned to give her side of the story!
We often laugh about this incident, but it gives an insight as to how characters become real people to their creators.
Has there ever been a time when your characters have come to life? This could be from a book you're reading or writing. If so, please leave a comment and tell me about it.