His name was Thomas. He was eighteen, a Master at his Craft. He had short blonde hair, blue eyes, and that was all he knew. Almost all. Except that, just like everyone else in this Place of Whispers, he had no writer.

It was difficult to be sure how many others there were. They crowded around him, and yet only ever at the edges of his senses, like daydreams, or something seen out of the corner of his eye. If he tried to look directly at them, or focus on one, they would be gone. Like him, they were only half-real. You could call them ghosts, except that even ghosts had been alive once. These were… nothing. Abandoned characters. Creatures given the spark of life for a moment as someone began a concept, struggled with a passing idea… and then dropped it, either rejecting it or simply letting it slip their minds. Left and quickly forgotten, they had no story to go into. Too real simply to vanish and yet not real enough to exist, they came here, in the hope that someone might claim them.

Such was Thomas' fate. Abandoned by his writer before he was even fully-formed, he drifted with the others, murmuring what he knew over and over, in the hope some writer might hear and claim inspiration. He could hear the other murmurs too, if he didn't try to listen too hard to any of them. There was a wide variety there – villains and heroes, men, women, even children. Red-haired girls with green-eyes and traumatised histories – everything from rape, to beatings, to seeing their parents killed brutally. There were a lot of those, and yet for some reason they always seemed to go almost as soon as they arrived. There was always someone out there willing to write a red-haired girl with a tragic past. Characters who stammered and stuttered out badly spelt descriptions that no-one could understand enough to want. Perhaps there were fascinating personalities underneath those babblings, and yet all anyone could make out was meaningless babble. Of course, that was why they had been abandoned in the first place…

Above them all were the Writers. Nobody could doubt their existence, their thoughts bellowed through the Place of Whispers, breaking easily through the murmurs, picking and choosing – and everyone wanted to be picked. Even if it was only for a moment, to be the character who appeared and was shot and killed two lines later. To be picked was to be pinned down by words, to be given reality of a sort. It was more than they had, and everything that they craved.

Who are you?

"I am Thomas. I am eighteen years old. I have short blonde hair and-"

Are you tall?

"I'm not sure!" There was a note of panic in Thomas' voice at the unfamiliar question, but eager to please, he grew several inches just in case that was what the writer was looking for.

What's your personality?

"I'm eighteen." He resumed his script quickly, "I am a Master at my Craft."

Are you happy, or sad? Do you have family? Where are you from Thomas, and where are you going?"

He could only shake his head to each question, repeating "I'm not sure" over and over. Uninspired the writer quickly passed on, and he was left to drift again.

There were other writers, many others. Some left him, just as the first had, when he couldn't give them more of an answer to their questions. You needed something to make a character with – a personality, a history, something to work with. How could you do that with nothing more than what he could give them?

Others showed brief interest, ready to mould him to their liking, to add detail where there was none, but lost interest when he repeated that he was a Master in his Craft at eighteen. They tried to make him change that, to let it go. They wanted to make him older, or at least make him let go of some of his rank. He couldn't let it go. It was all he knew of himself. So they released him, and he was left to drift again.

"I am Thomas. I have short blonde hair, and blue eyes. I am eighteen years old, a Master of my Craft."

Drift for too long and you ended up here, at the edges, with the ones with the worst spelling and grammar issues. Barely anyone ever got claimed from here, and yet they kept on repeating themselves even so, always hopeful that someone, somewhere might show an interest.

"I am Thomas…"

It was a long time since a writer had even looked over him now. His voice was down to the faintest of whispers, and yet still he clung on to existence, desperate for someone to hear him.

Wait.

There! That familiar feeling of a writer's attention focused on him, and then the usual questions began.

Who are you, Thomas? How do you think? Where were you born?

He wanted to have answers to those questions, wanted so much to be claimed at last, and yet all he could answer with was that old, hopeless, "I'm not sure."

There was a pause. Despair welled up inside him as he knew that the answer hadn't been enough, that this writer too would move on and he would drift here forever, lost at the edges, never to be claimed.

Instead, to his surprise, the other voices around him vanished and he was left alone suddenly in an endlessly white expanse. Memory told him that this was the potential of a blank page, a fresh story, nothing yet pinned down. He was being given a second chance. But would this new writer be able to make it work, or would they forget their idea and send him back to the Place of Whispers? He waited anxiously to find out.

And after a moment the words came, pinning him to the white, firming out his body from a ghostly hallucination into a reality at last.

"His name was Thomas. He was eighteen, a Master at his Craft. He had short blonde hair, blue eyes, and that was all he knew."