Wednesday, July 1, 2015

IWSG: Calling DIBS!

The Insecure Writer's Support Group is a community of writers whose purpose is to share with and encourage other writers. Writers can express doubts and concerns and offer & receive encouragement and guidance.  IWSG posts the first Wednesday of every month.  Be sure to check out other IWSG writers/bloggers here:  IWSG Members

Calling DIBS:

Dibs npl (sl) money, esp in small amounts; a claim; a right to something

I think most people are familiar with the slang term Dibs . . . as in "I'm calling dibs on the window seat"  thereby staking a claim to sit by the window on a trip.  In the book world, thousands of readers (including myself) lay claim to their favorite fictional book characters (esp. those sexy alpha males) by calling Dibs.  Readers are passionate & tenaciously loyal to their favorites and often verbally spar over them, as can be witnessed in many Goodreads groups.   I personally called Dibs on Max Savoie, Nancy Gideon's swoon-worthy hero of the By Moonlight series. He remains my #1 book hero to this day.

What does calling Dibs have to do with my writing?  My characters are personal to me.  I feel an ownership, a possessiveness for each of my characters.  I gave life to them - first in my mind & then on paper as they developed within my stories.  I assume this is the same with most writers.  A very specific female character has lived within me for a very long time.  For years, I've visualized her, heard her voice, saw her walk through very distinct settings in my mind, & at times, I'd swear I caught a whiff of her scent.  I've written scenes, fleshed out her story, and gotten to know her intimately.  I've researched her heritage, know her strengths & special skills, feel her desires.  I understand her anguish, the tears trailing down her face & what motivates her.  I'm now writing her story.  So what's the issue?

In recent months, I started reading a new-to-me series.  It didn't take me long to recognize my special female character as the heroine in the first book.  (What?  Somebody call 911!  I'm feeling ill.)  How could someone else write about a girl so unique, so special to me?  As it turns out, this author has an amazing series that features a heroine that could be my girl's twin - with the same heritage, same physical features, similar skills and many of the same sights, scents, & sounds as those I've dreamed and written about.  Things so eerily similar that I recognized her right away.  The settings are also close with both set in my area of the South.  The plot & other characters in her books are very different than mine - no similarities there.  But, I immediately found myself wanting to holler DIBS on my character.  She's my heart - the character that I've always known I would write one day.  Now I'm wondering if people will read my book and think I copied this author's character.  I know I haven't.  I don't think this author was even born yet when this girl first walked through my visions.  Has this happened to anyone else?  Have any of you ever had similar concerns about one of your characters?

I'll finish writing my character's story, of course.  I simply have no other choice.  But now, I'm struggling with second guessing myself, conscious of making sure that I don't take anything from the other author's character.  I guess one of the dangers for writers who also read a lot is the risk of meeting one of your own characters in someone else's book one day. Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever recognized one of your own special characters in someone else's book?  I think we should be able to call DIBS!  How about you?

One of my favorite Dibs to call is ice cream.  These are small so the calories don't count!

Another one is -  as Sheldon would say, That's my spot!  Dibs!

What things have you calling Dibs?


  1. Whoa. Those ice cream Dibs send me back a few years. I used to feed them to my kids when they were toddlers. I am afraid of meeting my characters in other stories, and seeing my plots or subplots show up in other places. It's not a good feeling. Then again, it could become a plus, a way to say "If you loved such-and-such character (or story), then you should really check out my book."

    1. I hadn't thought about it like that, Tamara. Thanks for another perspective. I always kept the Dibs ice cream in the freezer for my kids too...I may have eaten one, or two on occasion! :)

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