Thursday, August 20, 2009


On Monday, I drove down to my alma mater to take an office skills test. (Oh, the drudgery.) On the way down there, I saw two men hitchhiking. Now, being a single female, I’m never inclined to pick up hitchhikers. One of these hitchhikers was thumbing it right where the freeway onramp merges with the freeway. On the side of the freeway! The other was on the side of the road as it turned into a freeway onramp. The first wasn’t getting picked up. I doubt he would get much business where the cars are supposed to be going along at freeway speeds. (Though no driver in the area has yet to pick up on the concept of freeway onramp.)

Driving along down the map of our novels, there will be hitchhikers. We must decide whether to pick them up. Often, it will be a short journey if we do. No more than a couple of blocks. But sometimes there’s that hitchhiker that refuses to go away, the one you fear will turn out to be a mass murderer.

How to decide whether to pick them up or not?

It’s a tough call. Sometimes they’re there with their thumbs out at the end of the freeway onramp as we’re zooming along at top speeds writing, enjoying ourselves, and liking where the story is going.

Other times they’re there before we even take off on our writing for the day or week or whenever it is we’re sitting down to right. These are the ones that are easy to pick up and integrate into the story as they’re needed.
So far, I haven’t had any character hitch a ride for longer than a couple of blocks. (Equivalent to a handful of pages.) These are the sorts of hitchhikers that are liable to being cut from the end result of the manuscript. It’s the ones with potential to fulfill all the nightmares instilled via urban legends that will take over the book and make it more than it already is.

Related in the blogosphere:

Don't Dis the Map Part 1 @ The Innocent Flower
Don't Dis the Map Part 2 @ The Innocent Flower
Don't Dis the Map Part 3 @ The Innocent Flower
Letting your characters tell their story


  1. Those are great links...Glam did such a thorough job w/ those posts. Funny analogy. I kept thinking, "Jeffrey Dahmer, the serial killer, picked up some of his victims through hitch hiking." Ick.

  2. That's why I'll never pick up a hitchhiker. Kudos to those who do but you hear too many stories like that.

  3. I've encountered these characters in my own novel's and found like in life it's best to stay away. You post made me smile ;)

  4. I don't pick up the hitchhikers in real life or in my writing. I'm a cautious person.

  5. Tess, she really did with those didn't she? Loved that series.

    Ann and LW, have you ever found that you need to go back and put in some random character back where someone was hitchhiking, just to bring in some important bit of information that you POV character might not know?

    Thanks, Groupie!

  6. *smile*, I set my hitchhiker down in chapter 2. I never pick them up in real life, but if I did, I would be stuck with the one who has a tale of woe and smelly breath :).

  7. LOL

    That would so be me too, if I were to pick one up in real life.

    Did your hitchhiker like his or her ride through the first bit of your story?


All content copyright of the author. Please ask permission before re-printing.

Fair use quotations and links do no require prior consent of the author.