What to Do if Your Characters Actually Come to Life


If you’re a fiction writer, and have taken the time to dive deep into a character’s psyche, you may have experienced the mind-blowing- and sometimes terrifying- phenomenon of one of your characters actually coming to life. As in REALLY coming to life- not just in your novel, but in your house, plopped down in the middle of your living room, eating a bucket o’ bon bons.

FLASHBACK, 2008: Her name is Suzy, and she is REAL. And she’s enormous. She doesn’t talk much, but she loves to eat. She follows me every time I go to the grocery store. She fills my cart with junk food (her favorite). Then she follows me home, pigs out on Ho Hos and Ding Dongs, and sleeps for 12 hours.

Here’s the 4-step plan I developed to cope:

1. Panic!

I mean, c’mon, you’re gonna do that anyway, so you may as well make it the first step. I panicked when Suzy came to life. Didn’t faze her, though, as she’s not much of a communicator. Now that you’ve gotten the prerequisite panicking out of the way . .


2. Don’t panic!

Just stop. Pretty self-explanatory. Without this step you’re pretty much at the mercy of your miraculously alive characters, and pretty much at the mercy of those people with the odd smiles, the white lab coats, and the “happy juice” syringes hidden behind their backs.


3.  Question other people’s sanity, not your own.

As in, “You mean you don’t see a 400-lb. woman with clown makeup, bleach-blonde ringlets, and sparkly pink nail polish eating a bag of Cheetos in the middle of our living room? No? That’s weird. You might want to see a professional about your obviously compromised perception of reality.”


4. Laugh it off.

This last step pretty much is the perfect finish to most any faux crisis. Looking back, having Suzy come to life wasn’t as bad as I initially thought it was. She’s mostly harmless, and she’s always amusing. And she still visits me from time to time. (I know it’s not me who’s been eating all the bon bons.)


Have any real-live-character-coping experiences of your own?

Do tell!

Leave a comment


  1. Every so often, Bud Blossom pops up and trys to tell me the story I’m working on is about him. He’s a Chinese/American? character who was in ONE story. Now he’s in, like, three of them. I can usually put him off, but sometimes I just have to write a story with Bud in it.

  2. I’ve been begging my current hero to appear before me. So far, lunch-bag-left-out. Meh, eventually he’ll get sick of his heroine and come and find me…I’m sure of it. *sigh* 😉


    • If your current hero is anything like James Bond, he’ll eventually show up within nailing range. 😉

  3. My “Laura” sits next to me as I write..she finds her way into most of my stories..she assumes different names but she is there. Most of the time she writes and I sit next to her!

    • Suzy? Is that you? *JK* My “Suzy” isn’t ever online. 😉

      What a great character you have in “Laura.” Between both of you, you must get a lot of writing and editing done. Lucky!

  4. What is this “if” that you are talking about? 😉
    My usual response is not panic, but curiosity. “Hello there … If you’re going to hang out, you owe me a story.” I find my characters very helpful usually – in writing and sometimes outside as well.

    • Ha! The “if” is for the benefit of the non-writers . . I wouldn’t want to scare them away from writing someday. 😉

      Suzy was pretty damn scary (not so much to me, but to my hubby). But I love her anyway. She pushed my protagonist into insanity. 🙂

      • Right. XD
        Ah, yes. Others seem to get a little intimidated by them. One of mine started out really badly, but since then he’s changed a lot and is actually a great help and a beloved part of the household. :3

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