“I started writing . . . and there it was . . . ”
The subconscious mind is a fascinating things, of which I know virtually nothing. But I have come to trust it, err, myself, err, whatever. I have trained myself (with much backsliding) to turn the fingers and keyboard over to, well, that otherwise uncommunicative part of myself.
I’ve decided it’s in many ways like a computer. It’s got no personality, it doesn’t do anything unless I tell it to—and then often cacks up—but it runs all sorts of odd things in the background while I’m otherwise engaged.
But then I realize it doesn’t have _a_ personality, it’s got dozens, hundreds. Could well be up to thousands, by now. They’re all in there. All the Characters I’ve ever daydreamed or written. I may sit down and consciously, logically make a list: He’s 19, black hair, blue eyes, medium height and still growing, fit, but not a weightlifter. Comes from the lower classes, but he’s ambitious. He’s transferred from the local college to the big university . . .
And suddenly it’s the first day . . . he’s walking into his assigned dorm building, luggage in hand, and there’s a dozen seniors hanging around, ready to put any newcomers in their place. The whole scene just rolls out of the finger tips, all as seen by the character.
[Wait, I wasn’t planning on a hazing . . .]
There’s another new student right behind him. Snotty and rude to the hazers. He starts the fight, the MC jumps into help . . .
[Wait, that’s the MC from that short story. He can’t be the _sidekick_!]
A commanding voice breaks up the fight. It comes from an elderly professor, but the bully boys are instantly cowed.
[Where did he come from?]
He has insecurities . . .
[What? He’s cocky and ambitious! I should know, I planned it that way!]
. . . and he has to work hard to keep the grades up, kicks ass in the martial arts sorting. . .
[The what? Did you invet a whole alien university while I wasn’t looking?]
Winds up in remedial firearms, having never fired a gun in his life.
[Where is all this coming from? That wasn’t in the brief!]
And then he falls in love with the President’s daughter.
[No, no, no! Stop. I am quite certain she was in love with the other guy and you . . . figment of my subconscious, are going to . . . fall for the girl who’s kissing the other guy? All right. Fine. But you’d better be prepared for the scandal!]
Being affronted and ambushed by my subconscious is one of the best parts of writing. Or maybe the worst. Really, it wouldn’t be so bad, if only “Subconscious I” weren’t a better writer than “Conscious I” am. And didn’t have a better understanding of characterization.
I consciously hate that subconscious bastard.
So, tell us about the last time a character hijacked your story?