Most writers I know are people watchers. It’s something we can’t help. We’re captivated by the details of character, the subtleties of expression, the myriad possibilities that we see in flashes as we stare (sometimes too long) at people. A few times, for me anyway, it’s resulted in some rather odd situations, but that’s another post altogether.
Usually, the person inspires the sketch. But sometimes, the character’s already been written.
This, on occasion, is a very odd experience. Part of my brain–the large, sane, practical part–knows it’s just the fact that it is, on the whole, extremely easy to project these sorts of things. But the other part of my brain–the slightly zany, creative, and largely scatterbrained section–thinks of it more along the lines of Signs and Portends.
I suppose I only mention this because yesterday, on a Ghost Tour in Charleston, I ran across Emry, one of my main protagonists. As of yet I haven’t had a run-in to this level (I did meet someone who was a dead ringer for Sir Renmen a week or two ago). And it wasn’t as if this young man looked slightly like Emry, or reminded me of Emry, no; I looked at him, and for a moment or two there, my brain felt as if it were doing backflips. The internal monologue sounded something like:
“Look, it’s Emry.”
“No, he just looks like Emry.”
“But that’s exactly what Emry looks like.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, look at that nose. Look at the stance!”
“But it’s not Emry.”
“Right. Of course it isn’t. But it’s a doppleganger.”
“You probably want to stop having this conversation because either he’s going to start feeling uncomfortable, as you stare at him slack-jawed, or your fellow Ghost Tour walkers and/or friend will start thinking your a bit soft in the head.”
“But he looks like–”
“Yes, yes. I know.”
Though I’m quite an outgoing person, I never could broach a subject like this. How do you start the conversation with the doppleganger? “Excuse me, sir, but you look like a character in my book.” That’s plain creepy; I don’t think I’m creepy, myself, but it could be misunderstood. I don’t know. Perhaps I’m too self-conscious.
I suppose what I’m trying to say is that it’s indeed an rather intriguing experience, if often a little unsettling. The novel in my head is so very much in my head that moments when that line blurs… well, it’s just a unique sensation.
At any rate, I did quite a bit of writing between all the walking around Charleston. I have edited through Chapter Thirteen, and have (I believe) quite successfully re-routed the main plot, infused it a bit with more intrigue and mystery, and even managed to recycle some stuff from the last draft.
And now, before I start seeing any others of my characters appearing in flesh-and-blood forms, I should get back to writing.