Monday, June 22, 2009

The War Between Authors and Characters

Ok, here are my writing thoughts today.

There is such a thing as plot driven novels, and there are character driven novels.

Plot driven novels rely the most heavily on the plot and character on, you guessed it, the character.

The really awesome novels (well I think they're awesome) are the novels that are character driven but also heavily plotted. But even if you do have a character driven novel, you still have to plot, right?

So what happens when your characters want to run a muck with your plot and totally deviate off course? Do you let them? Or do you say, hey wait a second, I'm in charge here, I'm the one typing at the keyboard.

So speaking from personal experience, I am a heavy heavy plotter, but I also have characters that like to deviate off course and in the past I've let them, completely, to the detriment of all!

And I feel like only just recently was I able to take control and feel like I am absolutely 100% in charge of my story, cutting out these off the cuff moments when my characters walk off the plot to another scene I didn't intend.

It's been working for me-really well, I haven't written myself into a corner or encountered any plot holes.

But then yesterday in my current chapter 8, things kind of went off course-majorly. Not that there were things happening I didn't meant for to happen, but they were all kind of happening at once really quickly and things were escalating with my characters.

So I went back in with my new boss card and returned to the plot. Mostly the chapter is now where it should be, but something feels off about having pulled in the romantic storyline. And I'm thinking that although I've been incredibly bossy this draft ordering my characters around saying you do this, go there and say that-right now!-maybe in this case, they were right and I was wrong.

So...just wondering what your thoughts are on the whole characters coming to life versus the author being always in charge, and where do you draw the line and do you want to? I know this is different for everyone.

Im planning to go back and allow a little more of the romantic story line of chapter 8, but bring it in just a little bit-kind of meet them halfway, and then I hope to write chapter 9 tonight because I've been making progress like whoa-of course having a week off from work can do wonders for your writing. I SO CANNOT WAIT to do this full time!

Happy Monday!


  1. I haven't had this problem too much, mostly because I'm a control freak and keep a tight leash on my characters. Usually when they do something surprising it's in a good way that adds to the story rather than taking it off-course. I've trained them well - they know if they mess things up too much that I'm not afraid to cut them. :)

  2. This occasionally will happen to me, but it doesn't usually come in the form of action - more dialogue. Like, I'll write something for a character that they would never say. For example, it's Nina's chapter, and I want her to have a snappy comeback, but what comes out of her mouth is something June would say. And it's such a great line, but I have to cut it because it's not Nina's line.

  3. That's interesting-I like the way you put it Megan-I'm just getting the hang of controlling them or keeping the leash tight as you say-I think I compared this issue to a mountain climbing rope and the amount of slack present for the climber-errr characters. And a JUne line in Nina's mouth-hahaha! Usually my characters get like over excited and want to say and do things that she shouldn't be ready to do and say for like another hundred pages.

    My two romantic! I am constantly pushing them away from each other!


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