Monday, September 30, 2013

When Characters Don’t Cooperate

As a writer, I say a lot of weird things.  I talk about the voices in my head, about blowing up houses and killing people. 

But there’s a phenomenon I’ve experienced, and I’m sure that I’m not the only one.  I sometimes have problems with characters who try to take over.  And I know what you’re thinking.  You’re the writer.  Don’t you decide what happens?

That’s like me asking, “They’re your children.  Can’t you control them?”

Now, maybe some of you are amazing parents and do have control of your parents.  But there are always those special kids who have their own way of doing things.  And that’s how some of my characters are. 

I was talking to my Alpha the other day (she’s read EVERYTHING I’ve ever written).  And she asked me about a novel I’d been working on in Junior High.  That novel wasn’t bad, but my characters decided to sabotage me until I completely lost control of the novel and had to set it aside.  I had two character who were twins, based off of me (which, I learned, is a terrible idea).  One of the twins picked on the other one so much that she became incredibly, violently depressed.  That’s right, half of me made the other half depressed.  A psychologist could probably have a field day with that.

I hadn’t planned how these characters would behave, what their paths were.  So they chose their own paths.  One son got mad at his parents, packed up, and moved his family to Greece.  Another broke off his engagement because he lost an arm.  I had a character chance his name halfway through the story.  By the time I set it aside, it was a muddled mess and completely different from what I’d imagined.

That's why I plan my stories.  My characters may surprise me, but I can always direct them back to the right path. 

Now I have a different phenomenon.  I’m currently working on planning out the third book in the same world, with same characters.  Character who were only children in the first book are now older with families of their own.  I go back and read the first book, and there are so many hidden things in there about these characters that just match up perfectly to who they are now.  I’ve even had betas mention that it sounds like a certain character will go through specific trials that eventually happen.  There’s foreshadowing that I don’t even realize was foreshadowing.  And I love it when my characters do that.

How about you?  Had any fights with your characters recently?