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Vol. 3 Issue 3
May/June 2020

I'm Not Crazy After All

I've often tried to explain how I write my books, usually drawing quizzical looks from people when I say my characters speak to me. But I'm not crazy!
Researchers at Durham University teamed up with the Guardian and the Edinburgh International Book festival to survey 181 authors appearing at the 2014 and 2018 festivals. Sixty-three percent said they heard their characters speak while writing, with 61% reporting characters were capable of acting independently.

The study, which appeared last month in the journal Consciousness and Cognition, also found that 56% of the writers surveyed reported visual or other sensory experiences of their characters when they were writing, while a fifth had the sense that their character was occupying the same physical space. Fifteen per cent of writers said they could even enter a dialogue with their creations.

Exactly! I've had entire conversations with my characters.

According to Durham University’s Dr John Foxwell, the lead researcher on the project, the authors in the study reported a wide variety of experiences.

“The writers we surveyed definitely weren’t all describing the same experience,” Foxwell said, “and one way we might make
sense of that is to think about how writing relates to inner speech.

”Internal dialogue, or inner speech, is a phenomenon that people experience in many different ways," he continued, "with some people including the voices of people they know as part of their verbal thinking.

“Whether or not we’re always aware of it, most of us are trying to anticipate what other people are going to say and do in everyday interactions.

"For some of these writers, it might be the case that after a while their characters start to feel independent because the writers developed the same kinds of personality ‘models’ as they’d develop for real people, and these were generating the same kinds of predictions.”

Even though some authors reported that their characters had a life of their own, the researchers were keen to stress that there was no question of writers confusing fiction with reality.

You didn't really think I was crazy, did you?
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the 2020 Venice Book Fair was canceled.
I'll see you there next year.

While you're at home, you can find all of my books on or from my website,
Find Them Here

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Rena Koontz, Author · 1181 S Sumter Blvd #143 · North Port, Fl 342867 · USA

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