Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Writing World Wednesday: When Characters Rebel

Something people tend to say about writers: "Well, you're a habitual liar then, right?" This stereotype in writing actually confuses me. From outside of a writer's perspective, though, it makes sense. 

What people don't understand is that writing isn't something very conscious of us. It's like going into tunnel vision and watching something unfold, and all you can do is write as fast as you can to keep up with how the events progress. We're just passengers along for the ride.

Sometimes, when we try to guess what happens next, we're wrong.

Just the other day I was writing a scene I had been preparing for some time. In particular, my dear MC Ashley Vaandere winds up in the catacombs under Paris, France for a few minutes.

Naturally, as Ashley is a curious person, I figured she would venture through the catacombs for a time before hurrying to get out. She's seen carnage and she's seen death, so a few piles of bones wouldn't scare her, right?

Ashley didn't agree with me. Only about three hundred words into her travels underground, she panicked. She didn't want to explore - I had overlooked at just how many bad things she had seen within the past couple of months. She'd seen so much of it that she never wanted to come face-to-face with it again.

With that, what had been imagined as a three-or-four thousand word journey became that of only 900 words - long enough for her to find someone who ended up in the tomb with her, talk to them, and then get herself out. After editing, it may only be around 500 words. 

The point of this post is how interesting it is that, as writers, we can be certain something will transpire a certain way. This person will do this, and that person will do that. Yet when it comes to writing it, the characters rebel, and a scene we've built for maybe over a year can turn on its head and we're just trying to catch up with what our characters are doing.

Characters are more sentient than people give credit for. Just because we write out what they say doesn't mean we're making it up. These people have feelings and emotions that we wouldn't react to like they would. We don't make it up. We feel everything with them. This is why I disagree when people say writing is "lonely."

It's anything but lonely.

So what do you all think? Have any of you had a scenario where a character declared, "Nope," in regards to something you'd anticipated? Let me know in the comments!

Have a happy Wednesday, everyone. Trying a new font as I'm afraid that the font I've normally been using might be too small, and straining to the eyes of casual readers. (:


  1. Oh, mercy, I've lost track of all the times my characters have done what they wanted and left me scrambling behind them. Sometimes they have the decency to keep the shocking revelations restricted to my outlining phase, so at least I'll know what's up before I get to actual writing part. Other times, it'll be be NaNoWriMo, and I've got word-count to make, and my MC will announce in the middle of the chapter that he wants me to hit the brakes and transcribe a song for him. Or somebody will shoot a guy who I really, really need to NOT DIE. Those kinds of shenanigans.

    I love you, characters of mine, but I don't think you appreciate how difficult you make things for me.

    1. "Early, during the outline stage? But that's no fun," Ashley remarks. "Will probably agrees."

      Oh, you would say that. I've never quite had someone shoot someone else out of the blue though! Have I?

      "Not in the Flame Cycle, at least."

      Hehehe. Only time will tell. Onward!