A to Z Challenge 2013

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Do Your Characters Order You Around?


For most writers, I can guess the answer to that question. I was talking to some friend's last night though and the conversation cracked me up inside. My friend's daughter was talking about Stephanie Meyers and a quote that she said. She basically stated that the characters in the Twilight series made her write the books a certain way, that she had no choice in the matter.

The daughter thought that idea was crazy. I explained to her that I didn't think that was all that bizarre and that alot of writers feel that way about their characters. She gave me a weird look, but didn't really say anything.

This morning though, I was thinking about this again and I had to laugh. If you had told me a year ago about something like this, I would have thought the idea was a little crazy too. It's funny how I don't think that's too weird now. I can hear all you plotters out there siding with my friend's daughter though. If I planned my novel out, I'd be in control, right? Yeah, that particular habit is something I doubt I'll ever adopt in any big way. For one thing, I get a thrill out of seeing where my characters are taking me. It's that bit of unknown that makes me chuckle and keep writing.

On the other hand, I can see how being in control might make it easier for me to guide the story. I'd be telling the character what to say and where to go. But in the end, they wouldn't be themselves; they'd be mirrors of me, walking through the storyline. By letting them work their own way through the story, I believe it lets me envision them in clearer detail and with more realism.

What about all of you out there? Do your characters order you around? Do they tell you how the story needs to be? And how often do you listen?

8 comments:

Michelle H. said...

I'm not sure how to answer this. I guess I would say no. None of my characters order me around. But with that being said, I'm not a plotter. I don't outline the stories.

I see myself more of a shrink's role, sitting in the leather chair, having the world's biggest therapy session with every character. I become the observerer and write down my notes on the clipboard (or in the wordprocessor, as it were) while hoping Oprah stays on television long enough to feature me on her show as the world's greatest psychiatrist.

Kat Harris said...

Kind of. I let my characters tell me their story so I can get to know them. Then I put stumbling blocks in the way to make their stories interesting.

Breeze said...

Yes...they do...I don't know about "ordering" but they certainly lead me in a certain direction. I generally decide the situation but they tell me how they would react in it.

New characters are funny...they are sort of flat, an idea and I get to write them as basic as possible and then I'll find them fleshing out and I'll have to go back because once I get to know them I know their voice, their mannerisms, their reactions and I know when they would NEVER do that.

My new WIP is fascinating. Trying to make evil characters human instead of sociopathic...fun stuff.

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

YES THEY DO! Especially with my first book. They'd wake me up at night, all bitching until I got up and changed a scene or plot they weren't happy with. It does make ya feel a little crazy after awhile.

jjdebenedictis said...

As you noted, it depends on the writer.

Terry Pratchett and Laurell K. Hamilton were once on a panel together, and Ms. Hamilton was talking about how her characters not only force her to write the story their way, but force her to get up and act out certain scenes to make sure they work.

When she had finished explaining this, she turned to Mr. Pratchett and asked if his characters ever did that to him. His initial reaction was a withering "No."

He then went on to explain that he was in control, and his characters did what he told them to.

Do my characters control me? No, but I'm pretty much a plotter.

Icy Roses said...

Being the lazy person I am, I much prefer it when my characters pull their own weight and tell me what to do. Writing a novel for me is like a conference. It's a group effort. My characters and I sit at a table in my head and we mull over ideas together. But sometimes they don't show up and then I'm left frustrated and alone and that's the worst.

Shrinky said...

To say they order me around is a little too strong, but they do sometimes bring something uninvited to the table. I like to think I know them inside-out, so discovering an added layer can surprise and often delight me. My tendancy is to have a firm layout of where I want to go, it's not often I deviate far from my original outline.

Galen Kindley--Author said...

Clearly, the answer will differ from writer to writer. However, no less an author than William Faulkner said (Paraphrase) I walk around behind my characters and simply write down what they say and do.

Though I'll never be mistaken for Faulkner, that's kinda what happens to me, as well. I have a broad mental picture or idea of where I want my charaters to go. They usually end up there. But, the route they take, and the things they say...I just write that down, I don't create it.

Best Wishes, Galen.