When characters appear from thin air

I’ve had something particularly interesting happen twice during the writing of my latest novel Weun Academy. Characters that I didn’t foresee suddenly appeared mid-writing and ret-conned into the plot! Luckily, it’s never been in a destructive way. To be honest, it has always been more of a layering concept, completing details as if the plot had been constructed to have them drop in place.

The first time it happened was with Kira Madaki, a Human female and senior student mentor and upper-class person. She naturally completed the core group of students and became a central part of the book’s action.

Where’d she come from? Those that know me can spot how my own life has manifested in my writings. Kira is actually modeled after a friend of mine I’ve grown closer to, especially in the past few years. I guess it’s no surprise that this budding friendship directly inspired Kira’s appearance.

After “seeing” Kira during a writing session, I decided to pause advancing the plot to write her backstory. This is something I do with all my main characters to really “get them” and make sure their choices and interactions in the book are authentic. My friend has shared many things about her life. I also have the fortune to witness the amazing woman she is every day at work. I wanted to make sure that Kira embodied her, so others would be as inspired by her perseverance and drive as I am.

I’ll admit after writing it up, I was nervous to have her read it. I think we all doubt ourselves at times, and I wanted so badly for her to approve of what I wrote. Worse yet, I worried maybe something I included was too close to her actual story and she’d be offended. All my worries were for nothing, thankfully. She really enjoyed it, saying I remembered more than she recalled telling me about her life. We do talk a lot–and about many topics (and I love it).

Now, it’s difficult to think of Weun Academy without Kira!

I still find this all fascinating, as it did not happen with any of my other novels or short stories. I always seemed to know everything about those plots and characters. But I’m a firm believer in letting the story tell itself, that includes new revelations like this.

The way I look at this, it’s no different than a painter going back and adding new layers to a composition, or a musician adding additional music tracks. So, why can’t I go back and layer additional character and story information?

I guess we’ll see how it all turns out!