Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Wednesday's Burning Question

EH writes:

I've heard writers talk about characters in such a way that it makes me wonder who's in charge.  One famous author said recently that he had a character walk into his story and take over a significant portion of the arc.  He said that when this happens, a writer should consider it a gift and go with it.  Other writers are more cut and dried about it.  They're the author.  Characters do what they say, period.

My question this week is:  Do you ever allow a character to pull you in a certain direction, even if it takes you somewhere you didn't intend to go?  Or is that too woo woo?  Too magical?  Who's the boss in your novels? 


Sheila Connolly said...

Recently I told an aspiring writer, "you have to trust your subconscious." That walk-on character who takes over? He or she is your creation too, as much as the carefully-scripted one you thought was running the show.

In my first published book, somewhere in the middle a back door opened and in walked an Australian diamond miner. He just showed up, but I really enjoyed him. And he added contrast, flavor, and a bit of wry humor to the story.

Let your characters--and your imagination--loose and see where they lead you.

donna quixote said...

When I write, the main premise and most of the characters are already defined in my mind after about a week of reflection.

But when I start putting it on paper or the PC, there is lots of room for new ideas and more specific outcomes. Especially after the first draft is down, and I am in the polishing process. It can take me a month to rework 2000 words.

Every time I go back to it, a new idea jumps up or a part gets dumped. I'm just starting, my projects are small, so this works for me.

Linda Leszczuk said...

As an unpublished, it may be presumptuous to me to comment, but dialogue is one area for me where the character rules. I can write whatever I want but sometimes when I go back to listen to the voices, a character refuses to say what I've written.

Kathleen said...

I think Sheila is right about trusting your subconscious. You can plot and plan but sometimes it doesn't work out that way. In one of my books I had the wrong person picked to do the murder. Motive was strong, everything should have worked, but that person kept telling me that they didn't do it. It wasn't until I listened, really listened to my characters that the book worked and the right person got arrested. It's not that the characters are the boss, it's that we create them to have certain personalities and then if we ask them to do something not in their nature, they don't ring true. That is, I think, when our subconscious says "hold it. Have you thought about--" And something happens we hadn't planed or a miner comes in the back door. So now I listen that voice, be it subconcious or characters, a little more. It seems to know what it's talking about.