NaNoWriMo: Character Chaos

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“There are a thousand thoughts lying within a man that he does not know till he takes up a pen to write.”
W M Thackeray (1811-1863) Novelist (via @Quotes4Writers)

I completely agree with Thackeray. There are a thousand thoughts lying around we’re not aware of until the pen hits the… well,  the fingers hit the keyboard. In fact, some of them you aren’t even aware of until they’ve already poured out onto the page. Which brings us to the issue of recalcitrant characters.

Any NaNo author will confirm that once you get past that first week or so of writing your characters start to truly become themselves – even if its not the self you had in mind. They fall in love with the wrong person. They murder. They die. They decide to be a mystery instead of a romance (or vice versa). They start quests that never had anything to do with the plot points that you set out for them.

When this occurs you really only have two options:

1. Put them in their place.

You are the author. If you don’t like where the characters are taking you then rein them in and make them go the way you want them to. Mark that rebellious bit in red so that you know to come back and ax it later. They’ll learn their place soon enough.

2. Roll with it.

While some characters just have delusions of grandeur, others will open you up to whole new awesome and amazing plot lines that you never even conceived of before they showed up on your page. These you keep.

It really comes down to whether those character changes are going to enrich your story or detract from it.

P.S. If people start looking at your funny because you talk about your characters like they have minds of their own it’s okay. There’s no 12-step program for it, but your local write-in is a great place to find support for it.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: NaNoWriMo: Filling in the Gaps « Something Magic

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