Some writers don’t like it, some don’t mind it, some enjoy it and others absolutely adore it – I’m one of those who adore it, whenever and however it happens – Yes, I’m back to talking about when characters take over and surprise you.
I’ve worked out what it is I like so much about characters going their own way.
When characters take off and say their own words or do their own thing, it’s unexpected. Heck, I’ve got one character who tells his own jokes, jokes I have never heard before. They’re bad jokes, and often rude, but they make me laugh and they go into the book for that reason. It’s who he is, that’s his character, and to me he lives and breathes.
Interestingly (and I’ve never told you this before), Jim was supposed to be a Bad Guy in the Good Guy group. He was supposed to really dislike Jackie, but he wouldn’t go that way one iota. He secretly adores her and respects her, and most of his verbal challenges (fun stuff) is directed her way.
From a writer’s point of view, I love characters strutting their own stuff because it gives me a chance to see them as though outside my imagination, as an outsider would – as a reader would. It gives me a chance to immediately see if they work well (or not), rather than go through the usual routine of putting a project aside for months at a time to see it with fresh eyes and a clean-slate mind. Of course that has to happen, too, but it’s great to “meet” them outside of my immediate expectations.
Every book so far, including the one I am currently working on, has characters who express themselves in their own way. I watch them do it and enjoy what they show me and let them do their thing. I’ve never yet been disappointed with where they take me or what they display about themselves.
I should perhaps point out that “going their own way” still happenings within the environment and situation I’ve given them. They are just being true to themselves with the talents or experiences I’ve decided are theirs. In effect, I’m putting them to work. I’ve put in the programming and, if I pay attention to them, they will make writing their story so much easier. I don’t have to work out every move – they’ve done it for me.
What’s not to like? Why shouldn’t writing be fun? 😀
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I agree! When my characters act on their own, it’s usually a) more interesting, and b) more in-character than what I originally thought was going to happen. I know my characters well, b ut they know themselves better.
You’ve summed it up perfectly. They offer so much more than we could give them, and the quality of that shows.
This is one of my favourite things – sometimes my characters are smarter or more perceptive than I am. My first real run at a novel (the first draft of it anyway) had a moment where an incorporeal character disappeared from the world, and a ‘dumb’ supporting character thought it was possible it was taken by this threat that’s been looming over them all. The sentiment of the reaction they got was “no, you couldn’t be more wrong. Don’t even talk”.
Seeing as how I wasn’t really sure on the nature of the threat, but knew that it took flesh-and-blood people, it was a stretch for me to consider it. Yet as I wrote, bang, that dumb-dumb was right.
The other fun one was in the midst of working on a part of this long-running scifi thing I’ve barely touched, but that’s been plaguing me since my teens – a rough-and-tumble character interrupted a tennis match of moralising sermons between the scene’s villain and the overall protagonist, much to my surprise. I laughed like a writer* that day.
* – A crazy person.
LOL. I like it (I must remember that “laugh like a writer” line). 🙂
I’ve had minor characters turn into major characters and upset the entire plot. I got the entire series I’m now writing from a shopkeeper who was supposed to be just a fill-in but tuned into a powerful Chiddran seer. He took a fairly plain story and turned it into something special. However, it was Sevi who threw the biggest spanner in my works for being so professional. She wouldn’t let me write her anything short of top quality perfection.
Trying to get her to strut her stuff was almost impossible. I wanted to show readers what she was capable of because she’s mostly calm and so in control. Every time I tried to give her a threat to respond to in her own group (the Bad Guys), she wanted to wipe out every last one of them – which would leave no challenge at all for the Good Guys. Her rationale was that, as bodyguard to a Khekarian royal, if anyone stepped out of line, she’d have no trust left in any of them. They would go before they could even pose a threat and anything less would be a gross dereliction of duty.
Working my way around that was amazingly difficult and I had to take it outside the group.
She came into the story last and pretty well upset every step in the story one way or another. I’m glad I stuck with her and listened, though, as she comes across very strong and very much in command.
Now, whenever a character goes their own way, I know I’m in for a treat. I love it. 😀