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Archive for the ‘Character Development’ Category

Writing allows you to create a story in which anything you want to happen can and will happen.  But what if your characters take over the story and begin doing what they want to do?  Seems pretty unbelievable, right?  Or perhaps the word you would use is impossible.  But is it?  Is it impossible for characters to take over a story and write it their way?

I have spoken to different authors about the methods in which they write.  Most will actually sit down, and create an outline from beginning to end, with all the stuff in the middle.  They plan everything out, from the moment the character enters the room, to the moment they save the world.  They create character outlines, summaries and detailed notebooks with everything you ever wanted to know about a character, whether or not that information would be included in the book.  Even the famous J.K. Rowling did this – remember the mania over the “Dumbledore is gay” statement?  A simple fact that only she knew, and yet it impacted the entire reading community when it came out.

The characters created by the “outlining” authors have no room to stray from their set path.  They are told where to go and what to do and there is no room left for discussion.  But what about the other writers.  The writers who sit down without a plan.  The ones who just put pen to paper and write.  Can their characters stray?  Yes, yes they can.  And they do.

I was a firm believer in creating an outline, writing a plot summary, planning out every detail of my characters before I even wrote the first line of my story.  Sure, it would take me months of planning before I was ready to write, but that was what made the writing easier, right?  I could sit down, my outline in front of me and I always knew what was going to happen next.  Everything was going great, until one of my characters decided she didn’t want to go to the dance.  She didn’t want to wear that dress.  I had to ask myself, “She can’t do that, can she?”

The story became a struggle, and I had to force my character into the long lavendar gown.  I had to force her to take those few steps over the threshold and into the gymnasium where the school dance was being held.  Why did I have to do this?  Because somehow, she got it in her head that there was something else, something more important to be done at that moment.

I began doing some research, trying to find out if I had actually lost my mind, or if this sort of thing had happened to other writers as well, and wouldn’t you know it, I wasn’t alone.  Even the great author Laurell K. Hamilton as mentioned how her character Anita Blake would refuse her “help” and go about things her own way.  The characters know where they’re going, what they’re going to do, and will do it whether you give them permission to or not.  The characters make up the story as they go, and if ever they get stuck, they rely upon the imagination of their creator – the writer.

Writers using this second method often times turn out stories far different from their original idea.  And, while writing like this can be difficult, looking into a dark pit and not knowing where you’ll end up, it’s adventurous and exciting.  Who knew that writing a book could be as much fun as reading one – especially when, as the writer, you don’t know what’s going to happen next.

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