How schizophrenic do I sound? My Characters are Pushing Me Around. A writer friend and I were talking about this phenomena.
I’ve been writing for a long time. One of the most frustrating experiences is when a character refuses to behave as you wish them to.
I go into a chapter with a clear path all marked out, an outline of what needs to happen, the emotions that have to be expressed, when suddenly, out of nowhere, my characters start doing things that I didn’t expect and didn’t want. I realize that they’ll soon have me cowering in a corner begging them for a breadcrumb pathway out of the dead-end scene. So here’s my 2 strategies for when my characters are pushing me around.
1) DELETE, DELETE, DELETE, DELETE 🙂 – The easy solution. Puts them in their place. FAST!
or, if it looks like they might have something worthwhile to add
2) Let the characters play through
I really love to let the characters play through, and here is why.
Our subconscious is thinking about things in a way our conscious minds cannot track. I believe that this is where our characters get their will to try to control their destiny. Just as you have the book laid out in your mind, of who the characters are, and of how they are to react, your subconscious may be 30 pages ahead of you, recognizing a greater plot or emotional pivot opportunity that you have not acknowledged consciously yet. The characters pushing you around, may be a manifestation of your subconscious setting up for a great event.
Just be warned: though these little id battles can create beautiful rich sub-plots, that you, as the author, need to steer the story with a hand at 10 and 2 at all times.
Everything that you write must have a purpose within the story, otherwise, it needs to be cut. DELETE, DELETE, DELETE, DELETE 🙂