Friday, November 18, 2011

The Life of the Planner

Hello, and welcome to this weeks edition of When Your Characters Hate You or Why Don't You Ever Do What I Want You To?

In today's show we're going to discuss characters that like to veer of the well trodden path. The one that you mapped out for them with a highlighter, explained the dangers of the other paths, even put some obstacles on them so they didn't even want to go that way. The path you paved in gold and lined in signs telling your characters this is the way you should go. I've planned it. If you go this way, we wont have a problem. And they still go the wrong way.

If you're anything like me, you have a multitude of issues with your characters ranging from (but not limited to) them letting you think they're doing one thing in a novel, and doing something entirely different, minor characters forcing their way into a major plot line, characters eloping with each other, and love interests dying before they have a chance to become love interests.

The worst part about any of this is the nice lovely plan you had all ready to go. The plot that you spent longer working out than you'll spend writing the novel itself (or is that just me??). The one that you're sure your characters will actually stick to this time, only to have them completely veer off track, leaving you scrambling to try and fix the plot so that you're not fitting scenes in that don't make sense.

In the end, of course, you're left with a bit of a mess. Half of your novel sticks to your plot, the other goes in whatever direction your characters decided they wanted to take. You have to edit all the things that no longer make sense, even though when you were working on the plot you were snickering about how clever you were to put that in. And you have to figure out what your characters will be pissed at you for taking out and make sure to leave it in (unless your goal is to actually anger your characters, cause then you should definitely take them out...though I don't actually recommend this plan of action.)

If you've ever had any of these problems, rest assured. Things will turn out for the best. Because, once you get that mess of a novel in your hand and read it through (after taking a couple of weeks off so that you aren't tempted to just chuck it all, or kill off all of your characters) you'll realize that all of those things that pulled the characters off of the golden path actually makes the novel that much better.

Because, no matter how much you plan, you still have to do what's best for your characters. You have to take into account what they want. Not that you didn't when you were plotting, it's just that the characters evolve as you write them, and suddenly what they wanted before isn't anywhere near what would make them happy after a few chapters.

Don't be alarmed when your characters start to take on a life of their own. It just means that your doing your job as a writer. Those characters that take over are the ones that are going to feel real on the page. They're going to be who your audience falls in love with, and they're going to be the ones that you'll mourn when you have to kill them off, or finish the novel/series.

That concludes our program for the evening. Stay tuned next week when we discuss worlds and how they suddenly became much more complex then you originally intended.

No comments:

Post a Comment