Thursday, June 14, 2012

Do Your Characters Dictate Their Story?


Have you ever experienced a character who insinuates themselves into your story or takes the story in another direction than what you had planned?

I certainly have. And I think it’s a cool phenomenon.

In one of my earlier fantasies I had a villain cornered in a cave. Soldiers, with weapons, were advancing on him from one side and wizards, armed with magic, had him covered on the other. He had no escape (as far as I knew). Then lo and behold he moved a rock in the cave, flipped a lever and a rocket type machine rose from the cave floor. He climbed aboard, flicked a switch and roared out of the cave above the good guys’ heads and escaped through the sky.

Nope, that wasn’t planned. It just happened. He wasn’t ready to be captured because he had more mischief to cause and more scenes to be in, only I didn’t know it at the time.

In a contemporary novel my MC had no best friend. But a voice kept insisting she be in the story. She started off texting her, then calling her, then visiting her, until she wormed her way into the story as a full-fledged character. She was her best friend from her old hometown and her powerful voice made an awesome addition to the story. That wasn’t planned either.

Another thing that characters do behind your back is change their behavior. Do you ever find that the characters you have drawn up don’t like the voice or personality that you have assigned to them?

Twice, I have had characters change on me and wasn’t even aware the change was coming. In one instance, the MC’s best friend’s brother went from being a secondary character to being the villain.

And in another, an insignificant secondary character became an undercover agent for a secret organization and his role was all an act. He went from being a total jerk to being one of the good guys.

So tell me, do you have characters, who dictate their roles in your stories? I’d love to know some of your experiences with your characters.

Please leave your comments below. J

Oh, and here are some books I’d recommend for developing those outspoken characters.

45 Master Characters, Mythic Models for Creating Original Characters by Victoria Lynn Schmidt

Creating Character Emotions by Ann Hood

Breathing Life Into Your Characters by Rachel Ballon

And my favorite….

Bullies, Bastards and Bitches; How to Write the Bad Guys of Fiction by Jessica Page Morrell



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