View Full Version : I wish my characters would behave...

08-11-2010, 06:51 PM
I was happily pantsing along trying to get to grips with a scene when this happened.

They were going to the River, which ran in a meandering path at the bottom of this five mile long cleft in the ground that separated the estate from the town, but the river was barely visible from here. If you looked carefully, you could see some glitter of water between the twigs and the branches, but otherwise the greenery that covered the steep bare earthen slope down to the bottom was just too dense.

Also, the heat was already oppressive despite the early hour, and even in here in the green shade of the canopy it was hot enough to draw sweat. At least, unlike everywhere else, the stream ensured that everything was a lush green, instead of the parched brown lawns between the tall concrete blocks of the estate.

About half-way down the slope Eds suddenly stopped. Richard hadn’t been paying attention, and nearly bumped into his friend.

“What?” Richard said.

“It’s too fucking hot.” Eds pulled the T-shirt over his head, and exposed his torso.

Seeing this, Richard felt a tightening in his stomach. He wanted to reach out and touch the skin. He twitched his hand to do it, but withdrew it at once before Eds spotted what he was doing. He grimaced as the tight know turned into fear. To mask this he took off his own shirt.

I have no idea where that came from. Sometimes I think I'm not really writing as much as channeling. Richard was supposed to be a geek, a glasses braces and Doctor Who kind of person. And he goes and does something like that, and it feels more right because it opens a whole can of worms for him...

I wish my characters would just behave sometimes.

/me goes and stares wistfully at my semi-ruined outline.

08-12-2010, 04:26 AM
Ah I fully understand...my characters keep trying to jump into bed. Of course, I kind of need them too, as she's supposed to get pregnant, but I wish they'd be a bit more patient so I can get them in the same room together before the urge hits!

08-12-2010, 05:11 AM
He he! Ya, characters have a funny way of doing that to us, trying to do what we don't want them to. Sometimes I let them do it, and afterward slap them on the back side of their heads and say, all right, you had your fun, now do what you're supposed to! Then I delete the section. Sometimes, though, it ends up being better than I originally planned, and the characters win.

Susan Littlefield
08-12-2010, 07:32 AM

You really don't want your characters to behave, do you? You want them to be interesting. to find themselves in circumstances that make your story more interesting. After reading that little blurb of yours, I want to read more.

I say let those guys loose without their shirts and see where the story goes!

08-12-2010, 09:19 AM
Let your characters live, you're really just along for the ride. If they want to jump into the sack let them, if they want to bash another characters head in (like a 9 year old protagonist of mine did), let them. It makes writing more exciting that way.

08-12-2010, 09:41 AM
That's why I stuck this at the top of my blog:

"Writing three-dimensional characters is kind of like herding ducks. You can guide them in a general direction, but they're basically going to go wherever they want to." --Tina Jens

(Anyone else hear quacking?)

My dad asked me to explain this phenomenon once, and I tried. I'm not sure he quite understood it. But my sister uses writing as an outlet (she's a microbiologist) and one day just gushed out about some of her characters, "Omigod, you're right! They just do what they want!" All I could say was, "Yep. I know."

08-14-2010, 02:54 AM
And I was beginning to worry I was the only one who doesn't know what their characters are going to do before they do it. You think you have them all figured out and then they go and do something and you're staring at the computer going "what?"