Sep 1, 2009

Character Communication

Have you ever had a character that just refused to be boxed in? As writers we tend to think of characters as "real" entities. And sometimes I have trouble "reading" my very own made up person. When exactly it is that they take on a life of themselves I don't know, but I clearly know when the character is nudging me in a different direction. And sometimes that is annoying. But at least I know what direction the character wants to go.

What about those pesky characters that can't seem to decide themselves what way they want to go. First, they want to play nice, then they don't; second, they'll be sweet, then they aren't; at times, they seem pilable and kind, other times hard and brittle. Do you know what I mean?

One of my characters in my never-feel-it-will-ever-get-finished novel is actually a sidekick. He is not exactly one dimensional but is the sidekick (boyfriend-turned-husband) to the real sidekick. Why does he take up so much time then? Why does he insist on being in nearly every scene with a comment or two that takes me off into an area I didn't intend???? He's driving me crazy.

I can't write him out. It's one of those minor characters that keep the balance in the story. He's supposed to be the levelheaded fellow that everyone depends on to keep them grounded. Somehow his purpose has grown in ways I didn't foresee.

And even more oddly he isn't becoming a main character, but has carved out a very peculiar niche for himself. Since he is also the "hunk" in the story, I thought writing him would be easy. Just throw him in there and about for the sidekick's grounding romantic interest. BUT he won't stay there.

Suddenly he's the one that keeps saying no, don't do that, not good, sure why not, let's go there, let's don't go there...becoming the antagonist for the main character whose romantic interest is the other guy. And he's all wrong for her believe me. He's definitely the sidekick's hearttrob.

What's up with this? Where is he going with this?


  1. I'm just starting out in this writing world, and I think it's fascinating to hear from authors about how characters form their own personalities and change the story. I think your heartthrob definitely has a mind of his own.

  2. I do think our "gut" is usually right about characters like that but then we have to go back and give them more umph. Does he have a nervous habit or a favorite phrase? Does he have something that makes him exceptionally unique? Can he become an important element in a brand new plot twist you never discovered? If he's not going to stay where you put him, give him more to do.

  3. I have never tried to write fiction, but it is fun to read what is happening in yours!

  4. I hope I get the chance to experience that some day...writing fiction does not seem to be one of my talents...and I am soooo grateful for those who have it! I enjoyed reading this post, Terri and learning more about the process!

  5. My writing coach specializes in character based writing over plot directed writing. She tells us that if a character keeps interupting your scenes, then that is time to have him write a letter to you. Let him tell you who he is and what he is about. Let him tell you what he wants. I have just finished my first character driven novel, and I found I am really a halfer. If I totally stay with the character, I can write on forever, so I need a skeleton of a plot to save me from never ending the book. Good luck.

  6. This happened to me with a character that was supposed to be minor and ended up exploding into a major character who I'm now writing a sequel about because his story was too much for one book. Strange things these characters...


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