Thursday, January 23, 2014

When characters won't cooperate...

This is my idea of Charles Stafford, the twin brother of Marc Stafford from A Woman's Worth. Does he look like a troublemaker to you?

Well, yesterday, during what turned out to be an unprofitable afternoon of working on Till You Come Back to Me,

Charles told me he wasn't going to move to Nigeria. That probably doesn't sound like anything major to you, but it really screwed with my plans for him and Adanna.

Without giving too much of the story away, let me explain my writing process. I'm a plotter and can't function with some kind of outline before I start writing. When I created the original outline for the story, I had a plan in mind that would take Charles on a certain path. In my mind it worked out well, but yesterday afternoon he told me he wasn't having it.


Those of you who aren't writers might think that sounds ridiculous. After all, I am the author, and it's up to me to make the characters do what I tell them, right? Well, those of you who are writers know that it doesn't always go so smoothly. Charles has another plan, and after I listened to what he had to say (sounds crazy, I know), it made much more sense to where the story needs to go. And his plan also flows better with his family history.

Adanna, the heroine will be the catalyst behind his decision, and her reasoning will take the story in a better direction. 

After nine books, I've finally learned that I am the driver on these literary journeys, but my characters are the GPS. They know where they want to go, and it's up to me to get them there. This story is taking me longer than I anticipated to finish, which should not be a big surprise to me. I'm always running behind when it comes to my envisioned release date. After the last release fiasco, I concluded that I won't announce a release date until the book has gone to my editor. Until then I'll just say, "Coming soon."

Let's see how things go today...

Writers, has this ever happened to you? How do you handle it?

7 comments:

Author Ebony Tanya said...

Yes, yes, yes. I just had to rewrite my outline for my book because my main character decided she wanted to do her own thing. Everything I had originally planned to write about does not go with my main character any more. I have gotten frustrated plenty of times with this as it usually happens when I am approaching my deadline. What I do is take a step back and walk away from writing for a few minutes to a few days depending on my deadline. When I come back, I reread what I have written and rewrite my outline with the key points that I want the story circled around and go from there. To me, it makes my story much better. I just hate when it happens so close to my deadline because then I panic.

Dalia Florea said...

I truly understand. I had a different direction that I was going to take my main two characters, but they wasn't having it. I tried to stand my ground as the writer, but I lost the battle. Their direction made a better story.

Dalia Florea said...

I can relate. I had planned on the direction that I wanted my main two characters to go, but they wasn't having it. They had their own ideas of how it should go. I tried to stand my ground as a writer, but lost the battle. In the end, I'm glad I listened to them.

Chicki Brown said...

Thanks, ladies! It's good to know I'm not the only one with unruly characters. LOL!

Stella Eromonsere-Ajanaku said...

What a detour, Chicki. But it happens, especially in the events I plan for my characters. Suddenly, the main character has some other event in mind he or she prefers to attend.

I just laugh and give in. I write exactly what my character wants to do. Exciting-Uh-uhu.

bettye griffin said...

Absolutely. After I work with the characters and get to know them, it often occurs to me that they wouldn't behave the way I envisioned. If you let your characters drive the story and be true to themselves, it will never feel forced the way some plot-driven stories do.

D. Bryant Simmons said...

Hilarious! Can't tell you how many times that's happened to me. I'm demented or something because I start every book almost thinking I'm going to kill the lead character. Then about a third of the way through it she convinces me it's better if I leave her alive.