When Characters Talk To You

by | April 28, 2021 | General | 10 comments

How alive are your characters for you? Do you have conversations with them? Do they tell you what they want to do in a story, even if it’s not something you had in mind for them?

Do you hear your characters when they talk?

I recently read an article that talked about how many authors in fact do hear their characters speak to them. According to researchers at Durham University who teamed up with the Guardian and the Edinburgh international book festival, sixty-three per cent [of respondents] said they heard their characters speak while writing, with 61% reporting characters were capable of acting independently.”181 authors were interviewed.

This finding was of great interest to me since I hear my characters voices when they talk to me. Some are quiet while others are quite loud. As my readers know, I write sexy retellings of fairy tales. Tita, my Puss In Boots in my novella “Trouble In Thigh High Boots” has a deep, sonorous voice. She purrs. Obviously, she does. She’s a cat shifter. Rapunzel in my novella “Climbing Her Tower” has a higher, wispier voice. She also speaks quicker than Tita. Both of these characters have told me when they were unhappy with the direction of a plot. They also told me what turns them on the most so I could give them the best experiences. These two are very open, honest, and straightforward – qualities I admire.

I asked writers on Facebook their experiences with their characters voices. Everyone’s experience is different, but all have a camaraderie with their characters. Some fight. Some don’t. Some take the plot in a direction the author had not originally considered. Some play the “You should be writing” card. Here are a few responses.

Christiane Knight – “Mine talk to me and occasionally have taken the plot in very different directions than I’d planned.”

Terri Bruce – “LOL – I not only hear them, but it’s kind of like they take me over at times. I’ll be in the shower or driving and realize suddenly that I’m talking OUT LOUD, saying the dialog I’m picturing in my head (the scene starts playing like a little movie in my head but it’s always in first person – I’m the characters (lol all of them) in the scene/seeing the scene from their POV – rather than third person). My husband often catches me doing this (it’s happened in a restaurant while sitting across from him a few times) and he’s like “um, honey, your lips are moving. You’re talking to yourself. What is happening?????” LOLOLOL!”

Phoenix Johnson – “Some of mine are total arseholes lol they try to fight me, can be exhausting!”

Colleen Markley – “My protagonist is sitting on my newly cleaned counter now, swinging her feet against the cabinet. Her heels bang the wood. “You need to stop playing house and get serious,” she tells me. “You can’t finish a novel if you’re not serious. You’re just shy of 90,000 words and you still need to finish act two. Your pacing is off and you need to fix it.” She pauses her feet and stops speaking for a moment as she looks at me. “You’re so close.”

Jenise Aminoff – “My characters all have distinct voices, and some of them ARGUE with me.”

Jacques Gerard – ” Yes, I do hear my character’s voices and would love to be included in your blog. I just finished an erotic short story. It has a lady DJ doing a podcast. Her voice is low and velvety. Her male lover who calls into her show has a deep baritone voice and sounds like Barry White.”

So writers, do your characters talk to you? Boss you around? Plead with you? If so, know you’re not alone.


Elizabeth Black writes in a wide variety of genres including erotica, erotic romance, horror, and dark fiction. She lives on the Massachusetts coast with her husband, son, and her two cats. Her LGBTQ paranormal erotic shifter romance novel “Full Moon Fever” is now available for purchase at Amazon and other book distributors. Her collection of erotic fairy tales, “Happily Ever After: Twisted Versions of Your Favorite Fairy Tales”, is also available at Amazon.

Web site: http://elizabethablack.blogspot.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elizabethablack

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ElizabethABlack

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/elizabethblack

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Elizabeth Black

Elizabeth Black's erotic fiction has been published by Cleis Press, Xcite Books, Scarlet Magazine, Circlet Press, and others. She also writes dark fiction and horror as E. A. Black. She lives in Massachusetts next to the ocean with her husband, son, and three cats. The beach calls to her and she listens.


  1. Lisabet Sarai

    I’ve always felt inadequate, because usually my characters do not talk to me. There have been a few exceptions.

    They do talk, of course. When I’m writing a dialogue scene, I listen to them and transcribe their conversations. But then they’re talking to one another, not to me.

    Certainly I’ve had characters try to hijack my plots. It’s a clear sign, when I’m writing and writing, but I just can’t get them to do what I had in mind.

    Some great quotes here!

    • Elizabeth Black

      I know what you mean, Lisabet. Some of my characters speak to me. The fairy tale ones do. Glad you liked the quotes. It seems lots of characters talk to their creators.

  2. Rose

    I’m with Lisabet on this. Whenever I’ve read that writers’ characters talk to them, I’ve had doubts about myself being a “real” writer. I start asking myself what wrong with me that my characters don’t talk to me?

    Good (or better than just good) dialogue is extremely important to me and I always want to make my characters’ conversations sound authentic, so I do have those conversations in my head, but it’s my characters talking to each other, not to me. On the other hand, I do put myself into my characters’ heads and can switch back and forth between what they’re each feeling and what they’re saying to each other. (Of course, this is a lot like those conversations you have in your head with someone you actually know, although they’re never actually a part of those conversations, but it’s nice to imagine you were open and relaxed enough to have said all those things to each other. I sometimes wonder if that’s one reason some couples don’t argue very much…because they settle all those arguments and misunderstandings in their heads and everything’s cool.)

    In any case, I guess as long as what ends up on the page is worthy, then whether or not your characters talked to you and you transcribed it, or they follow the script you’ve written for them, it’s a good thing either way.

    Rose 😉

    • Elizabeth Black

      Rose, you’re definitely right about what ends up on the page being worthy. It doesn’t matter how it got there. I thought it was interesting that some writers talk to their creations and hear their voices. Not everyone does, of course. As long as you’re happy with what you’re writing, that’s what matters the most.

  3. kim alexander

    My characters speak to each other–I wish they’d talk to me! I do my best to transcribe what they say. When I hear these long conversations, I know they are going to wind up being the parts of the book that need the least amount of editing.

    • Rose

      Kim, I know exactly what you mean. When I’m writing dialogue, I’ve very rarely edited it, because (in my opinion), it’s like a little stream finding its own path, right down to the occasional detours that pepper ordinary conversations. And I must be doing something right, because I’ve often been complimented on how my dialogue comes across as genuine.

      Rose 😉

    • Elizabeth black

      Fascinating – transcribing what your characters say. Dialogue is very important. I’ve heard it’s a good idea to read dialogue out loud to make sure it sounds authentic.

  4. Mandy India

    I can very much relate to this. My characters often speak to each other and all I have to do is just transcribe. But sometimes they talk in a language that I don’t understand. Then I have to describe their actions. Kind of indication to me not to focus too much on the talking. They talk to me in particular only when they feel like trapped in an imcomplete story and want me to complete it and free them. Rarely some characters have also requested to be part of a story where I never imagined them to enter. Funny yet serious topic. Thanks for all the quotes you shared, Elizabeth!

    • elizabeth black

      I like this idea of transcribing character’s speech. I’ll have to see if my characters let me do that. Talking in a language you don’t understand is different. It makes sense that it could mean you need to look at their actions rather than their speech. It’s your own mind giving you an idea what to do.

  5. elizabeth black

    Thanks, everyone for the great comments. I’m glad you enjoyed the blog post.

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