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Thread: I'm a little freaked out by my characters...

  1. #1
    practical experience, FTW
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    I'm a little freaked out by my characters...

    Not like I'm going to stop, but my characters are going in completely unexpected ways, and to say I am surprised would be an understatement.

    Anyone else ever experience this?

  2. #2
    The Crazy Man in the Sun. Feel me. WillSauger's Avatar
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    Unexpected how?

    I've had characters change on me. Both looks and personalities as I write them.

    I've also had character completely twist stories and work me into a brick wall several times, until I learned how to craft a drill out of cream cheese and burrow my way through.
    Last edited by WillSauger; 12-07-2012 at 02:33 AM.
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  3. #3
    Widely Regarded as a Bad Move DanielaTorre's Avatar
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    Never understood when people say this about their characters. You are your character. If the "character" is going one way its because its supposed to. You just have to build your world around said character's choices. Cause and effect. Let them do what they want then make them pay dearly for it. That'll teach 'em.

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    practical experience, FTW heza's Avatar
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    I had a character refuse to participate in the love triangle I'd outlined for him because he had no interest in the girl. He picked out a different girl and I had to write her a bigger part in the storyline.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by melindamusil View Post
    Not like I'm going to stop, but my characters are going in completely unexpected ways, and to say I am surprised would be an understatement.

    Anyone else ever experience this?
    Happens all the time. It happens because the character of my character (horrible phrase, but you know what I mean) requires it. If you want your character to behave in a different manner, you have to change them into someone who would do so.

  6. #6
    Super Procrastinator Kallithrix's Avatar
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    Saying your characters won't behave the way you want them to is just another way of saying you've written yourself into a corner. By this I mean that the sort of character you've created isn't the sort of character who would be likely to do the things you need them to do in the story. It wouldn't ring true, and suspension of disbelief would be compromised.

    So, the solution is simple: either rewrite the character to fit the plot, or adapt the plot to fit the character.
    "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."








  7. #7
    Impractical Fantasy Animal sunandshadow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DanielaTorre View Post
    Never understood when people say this about their characters. You are your character. If the "character" is going one way its because its supposed to. You just have to build your world around said character's choices. Cause and effect. Let them do what they want then make them pay dearly for it. That'll teach 'em.
    Well, when people say this, it's that their conscious, which made the plan, was surprised by their subconscious, which decided something different had to happen in order for the characters and story to be the truest or most interesting or most meaningful. It's usually surprising to catch the different parts of your mind being inconsistent with each other.

  8. #8
    Widely Regarded as a Bad Move DanielaTorre's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sunandshadow View Post
    Well, when people say this, it's that their conscious, which made the plan, was surprised by their subconscious, which decided something different had to happen in order for the characters and story to be the truest or most interesting or most meaningful. It's usually surprising to catch the different parts of your mind being inconsistent with each other.
    Damn, in that case, I want to be bitten by the crazies. Its a Pulitzer in the making.

  9. #9
    DenturePunk writer bearilou's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sunandshadow View Post
    It's usually surprising to catch the different parts of your mind being inconsistent with each other.
    This sums it up for me.
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  10. #10
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    Here's something Kurt Vonnegut said about his ability to control his characters (From Breakfast of Champions):

    Here was the thing about my control over the characters I created: I could only guide their movements approximately, since they were such big animals. There was inertia to overcome. It wasn't as though I was connected to them by steel wires. It was more as though I was connected to them by stale rubber bands.

  11. #11
    Caped Codder jaksen's Avatar
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    I must go into a fugue state when I write. (Sometimes.) Because more than once I've read back a passage and said wth, I don't remember writing that. Why did he say/do that?

    Sometime my characters take on a life all their own, and it's one of the sweetest things about writing. I don't plan much when I write, but often I've ended up walking down Maple Street when I could have sworn I was taking the subway.
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  12. #12
    The Boon abides Drey of Boon's Avatar
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    For me it's one of the great joys of writing when the characters start yanking their leash and leading me down unexpected alleyways. I don't know why or how it happens, but I like to think it's the sign of them becoming more a living breathing thing than a couple of ideas and notes scribbled on some paper. It also helps ensure motivations remain realistic. "You want me to go there and do that? You're joking! I'll be over here doing this, so you better work out how to accommodate me otherwise you're gonna have a problem."

    When I see characters being dragged woodenly from one scenario to another like bored kids in a shopping mall I find myself mentally checking out of the story.

  13. #13
    practical experience, FTW Sunflowerrei's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jaksen View Post
    I must go into a fugue state when I write. (Sometimes.) Because more than once I've read back a passage and said wth, I don't remember writing that. Why did he say/do that?

    Sometime my characters take on a life all their own, and it's one of the sweetest things about writing. I don't plan much when I write, but often I've ended up walking down Maple Street when I could have sworn I was taking the subway.
    I love it when I write something unexpected and learn something new about my characters. It is one of my favorite things about writing.
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    writer, rider, reader...ex-pat! BethS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by melindamusil View Post
    Not like I'm going to stop, but my characters are going in completely unexpected ways, and to say I am surprised would be an understatement.

    Anyone else ever experience this?
    Oh, yes. They do tend to get notions about their own destinies.

  15. #15
    practical experience, FTW Maria S's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BethS View Post
    Oh, yes. They do tend to get notions about their own destinies.
    I love it when this happens, but it also scares me a little.

  16. #16
    Chief High Procrastinator Broadswordbabe's Avatar
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    Your characters going in unexpected directions may be a little scary, but it can be a good sign that they have a depth and direction of their own. I also sometimes find a plot goes in a different direction than I thought it would. This may be because it's become time to write about a subject I need to talk about; sometimes this subject is uncomfortable or scary. It's also something I need to say. So be prepared for that to happen, too.
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  17. #17
    May or may not be a potato. thepicpic's Avatar
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    When the characters realise I'm not here to boss them about , that I'm just tagging along for the ride and letting them do their thing, that's when it gets really fun.
    Especially when they don't work out that, whilst I let them do what they will, I control the universe they inhabit... *evil chuckle*

  18. #18
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    Let them go. You're still in control, but your subconscious is doing all the heavy lifting, and that's actually how almost all of us write who don't outline. It's a Good Thing. With rare exceptions from truly brilliant writers, few things bore me more than pre-plotted novels where the writer guides the characters through a strict course every step of the way.

    Let the characters run, play, get into trouble, go where they will, do as they wish. It's your own subconscious guiding these characters, and chances are it will do a much better job than the preconceived course your conscious mind wants to dictate.

  19. #19
    Huh. kkbe's Avatar
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    Me:

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  20. #20
    I aim to misbehave Myrealana's Avatar
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    Remember that time your main character started a brawl at a funeral?

    No? Well, I do.

    Since then, it's become one of my critique group's favorite chapters of all time.
    -- Myrea

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  21. #21
    Caped Codder jaksen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesaritchie View Post
    Let them go. You're still in control, but your subconscious is doing all the heavy lifting, and that's actually how almost all of us write who don't outline. It's a Good Thing. With rare exceptions from truly brilliant writers, few things bore me more than pre-plotted novels where the writer guides the characters through a strict course every step of the way.

    Let the characters run, play, get into trouble, go where they will, do as they wish. It's your own subconscious guiding these characters, and chances are it will do a much better job than the preconceived course your conscious mind wants to dictate.
    Wow, brilliantly said. Better than I did somewhere up there in the thread.

    Cuz, yeah I know it's all me who's doing this, but it's on a diff level than me saying: okay, he needs to walk to the river, toss the gun in, then go back to his car.

    Then when I write it, the kid tosses the gun in the back of a pickup instead and hikes on down the street to a small store to get a soda, where he runs into someone who's going to really mess up his day.

    I love this stuff. It's a big part of why I write.
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  22. #22
    Hush, hush... Calliea's Avatar
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    Yes, yes, yes! And that's the biggest fun in writing for me, though sometimes, I gotta say, a PITA! When one of your main characters comes out of the closet or reveals that she, in fact, is an evil genius and a puppet master responsible for all evil, that's where the fun starts
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  23. #23
    practical experience, FTW Robert Gonko's Avatar
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    I remember one time, years ago, when I was trying to write a novel I may well resurrect someday I had a dream one night where I introduced myself as my lead character to someone. Made myself take a break for a few days after that.
    Robert Gonko
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesaritchie View Post
    Let them go. You're still in control, but your subconscious is doing all the heavy lifting, and that's actually how almost all of us write who don't outline. It's a Good Thing. With rare exceptions from truly brilliant writers, few things bore me more than pre-plotted novels where the writer guides the characters through a strict course every step of the way.

    Let the characters run, play, get into trouble, go where they will, do as they wish. It's your own subconscious guiding these characters, and chances are it will do a much better job than the preconceived course your conscious mind wants to dictate.
    My only problem with this, is that there is no reason to put down all those who outline or pre plot.

    It is entirely possible to outline your whole work and then within the framework of each scene, let your characters act and grow organically. It may mean that you have to make some changes to your outline, sure, but there is no problem with that. It's not like the outline is some mystical contract that you are bound to.

    Like everyone else in this thread so far, I find it fascinating to watch the people that I write about act as if own their own. I find out so much more about them through writing than I do when I'm just trying to brainstorm.

  25. #25
    Trust me, I'm a doctor StephanieZie's Avatar
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    This happened to me with a peripheral character recently. She's my adulterous MC's fiance. When I first imagined her, I had to make her a b*tch, because it was the only way to make MC's infidelity even remotely sympathetic. But I felt that she was a bit flat, so I sat down one night for a few hours and wrote just about her. I found out that she's actually self-sufficient career woman who's completely uninterested in being married or having kids, and her fiance (MC) is, in her eyes, an emotionally stunted manchild who feels emasculated by any woman more assertive than a Stepford wife. I started to like her so much, by the end of this exercise I was actually rooting for her, telling her she didn't need MC anyway.

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