In both of my creative writing classes today, we discussed Imaginary friends in childhood and characters in novels we write. About half of the members in each class said they had had imaginary friends when they were young. Some of these friends changed with the situations the child experienced or they were the main characters of whatever book they read or had read to them. Some of the friends were animals, a rabbit, a tiger, and mine, which was a black dog that accompanied me to school and sat next to me at my desk. We had a real Collie but the imaginary black dog was all mine. I told my parents about him and they humored me. I still can see that dog as if he is real today.
The handouts I gave the class members talked about how writers’ characters can be compared to childhood imaginary friends. Andrea Lochen, author of Imaginary Things, wrote an article called “Four Surprising Benefits to Letting Characters Take the Reins.” She mentioned that Marjorie Taylor’ book, Imaginary Companions and the Children who Create Them, said that “authors sometimes report feeling like their characters are real people with their own independent agendas, often surprising authors with their unexpected declarations and actions.”
I have experienced what Lochen and Taylor describe in every novel I’ve written. If you have too, I’d like to hear about it. You can post in comments.