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View Full Version : I'm the writer, the creator. So how do my characters keep taking over?



Christyp
11-17-2011, 10:52 PM
I had written and completed a book. I'm now revising it for a publisher. During this process, my male character decided he no longer wanted to be a Choctaw with long hair, but a white man with short hair (think Sam Worthington) with blue eyes. Huh? I'm the creator. How did everything change while it was in the drawer?

Do all characters conspire when we're not looking, just decide to not only change their looks, but their race and personality, as well? I'm assuming this is my subconscious mind telling me the original male wasn't right for this story?

Ari Meermans
11-17-2011, 10:59 PM
Hah! Mine keep telling me it's their story and I need to get it right.

BotByte
11-17-2011, 11:10 PM
Did you change him accidentally?

My characters are odd. My MC is nuts and female lead is too righteous.

My MC takes the world for a nice turn or two. He starts to change my story as I write, so yeah, he does take over sometimes.

Toothpaste
11-17-2011, 11:16 PM
It's weird when that happens. Of course it isn't actually the characters taking over, but something in our subconscious or . . . something. Still I know what that's like. I wrote a very small role of a servant boy at the beginning of my latest, and suddenly he became a major secondary character. He just wormed his way into the story. And I'm so happy he did :) .

leahzero
11-17-2011, 11:16 PM
They definitely conspire against you when you close the file. Last time I opened my WIP there was a sentence I didn't write, in bold red type, that simply said If you do what I think you're going to do to me, you'll regret it.

gothicangel
11-17-2011, 11:16 PM
Hah! Mine keep telling me it's their story and I need to get it right.

This.

Don't argue with a praetorian, that's my motto.;)

Christyp
11-17-2011, 11:27 PM
They definitely conspire against you when you close the file. Last time I opened my WIP there was a sentence I didn't write, in bold red type, that simply said If you do what I think you're going to do to me, you'll regret it.

Okay, that would freak me the hell out...and it takes a lot to spook me!!!

Hiroko
11-18-2011, 12:47 AM
I was recently working on my WIP and one of my MCs instructed me not to write a poem in a certain way, so I can sort of relate.

I guess our characters become alive in the process and take on their own kind of meaning while we're busy trying to write them out on intangible paper.

The Lonely One
11-18-2011, 12:48 AM
Probably just means you've built up some strong elements of storytelling that have enough umph to sway you in one direction or the other, kind of as if they have a personality of their own.

Just one theory.

AutumnWrite
11-18-2011, 01:08 AM
At first, I would get really stubborn when they insisted on going in a way I hadn't invisioned, or being something I hadn't pictured. But I'm getting used to it. I let them tell me who they are...for the most part.

scarletpeaches
11-18-2011, 01:15 AM
I love it when this happens. They take on a life of their own. It freaks some people out, but not me. It shows "It's alive! IT'S ALIIIIIVE!!!!"

Bubastes
11-18-2011, 01:26 AM
Hee! I love it when this happens. I don't kid myself into thinking I'm the creator. I'm merely a conduit for the characters. Yep, I'm a dumb pipe.

AutumnWrite
11-18-2011, 01:28 AM
The really weird thing for me was, how right they were...they are alive.

Scribe4264
11-18-2011, 01:31 AM
I had a story (screenplay, actually) that my MC's girlfriend kept bouncing back and forth between dying in a plane crash and not getting on the plane in the first place.

Woman has more lives than a cat..... :crazy:

Filigree
11-18-2011, 02:13 AM
I tend to treat my fiction writing as more of an interview process.

I'm the neutral, noncommittal interviewer recording everything while asking the characters "Go on", or "Then what happened?" If they deviate from a direction I can use, I either steer them back or dig deeper until I find something more interesting than my original plan.

Now, I don't really *believe* I'm a conduit for other intelligences. I made these characters and their universe. But once I've given them enough personality and history, it really is like guiding an interview session.

Tepelus
11-18-2011, 04:58 AM
It's weird when that happens. Of course it isn't actually the characters taking over, but something in our subconscious or . . . something. Still I know what that's like. I wrote a very small role of a servant boy at the beginning of my latest, and suddenly he became a major secondary character. He just wormed his way into the story. And I'm so happy he did :) .

Those damn servant boys! I have one in mine who was supposed to be a very minor character, but is ending up being much more important to my MC than I intended him to be. He's become such a sweetheart. It's going to be sad when I have to kill him.

EclipsesMuse
11-18-2011, 01:07 PM
Not just my MC does it. One of my antagonists decided he wanted to jump my MC two scenes earlier (right when I was down to my last 9 scenes). he ended up abducting two supporting character who were supposed to be in the next few scenes. I lost two scenes in the process, but all in all, it's turned out better for the story. :)

Reifier
11-18-2011, 01:23 PM
Those damn servant boys! I have one in mine who was supposed to be a very minor character, but is ending up being much more important to my MC than I intended him to be. He's become such a sweetheart. It's going to be sad when I have to kill him.

I Lol'd.

But yea, I use to wonder at some of the authors talking about their characters doing whatever it is they wanted and I would think - the hell?!

Then I realized that its been happening to me all along, that my characters are sneaky, insidious individuals. D'oh!

Isn't there's a name for this affliction..? and a place reserved for that matter...

EclipsesMuse
11-18-2011, 01:37 PM
I Lol'd.

But yea, I use to wonder at some of the authors talking about their characters doing whatever it is they wanted and I would think - the hell?!

Then I realized that its been happening to me all along, that my characters are sneaky, insidious individuals. D'oh!

Isn't there's a name for this affliction..? and a place reserved for that matter...

Not sure about the name, but you're already in the right place. Here at AW you have many who will sympathize with you. ;)

seun
11-18-2011, 02:06 PM
My characters are in charge. I'm just involved to tell their story.

Filigree
11-18-2011, 06:51 PM
I still remember the cardboard villain I tried to write a decade or so ago. He acted out of character, would never do what I told him, and generally derailed the story. Until I had a clear epiphany that he actually wasn't a villain, but the sympathetic protagonist my story needed. I switched gears, and we had a great time. I might even go back and revise his story, if I'm lucky enough to find a publisher for my current work.

whimsical rabbit
11-19-2011, 06:12 PM
It's simply your inherent knowledge of people (most probably acquired by observation and empathy) taking over- which in my opinion, this is what being a writer is about.

It makes sense to you, in terms of consistency and understanding of the human nature, that you character would do something different than what you want him to do as the plot-structuring master. Which, for me, is brilliant. I always believed that the best plots stem from character, not in the sense that plot-driven stories are any lesser (not at all), but that story and plot exist in a bidirectional dynamic. Sometimes characters adjust to plots, and vice versa, but it's important it all makes sense and flows naturally.

Brutal Mustang
11-19-2011, 06:40 PM
I wrote a very small role of a servant boy at the beginning of my latest, and suddenly he became a major secondary character. He just wormed his way into the story. And I'm so happy he did :) .

Hah. Same thing happened to me. Only with a young space pilot, who was supposed to fly my MC from planet A to asteroid B. Now the whole manuscript revolves around this pilot, and his relationship with the MC.

flarue
11-21-2011, 08:43 AM
One of my characters recently decided to tell me that she'd been on a cheerleading squad at one time. It has changed quite a bit how I originally envisioned her.

Christyp
11-21-2011, 07:55 PM
One of my characters recently decided to tell me that she'd been on a cheerleading squad at one time. It has changed quite a bit how I originally envisioned her.

Oh, that's great!!!!

Christyp
11-21-2011, 07:59 PM
I love that I'm not the only crazy person! My sister always says I sound nuts when I say stuff like that, but I think we need to be a little skitzo, or have multiple personalities to write successfully!

EclipsesMuse
11-21-2011, 09:37 PM
Or be a role player.

TCnKC
11-21-2011, 10:58 PM
On the current project I'm working on the friend of the MC was originally going to be someone who betrays the MC sometime in the first part of the book but as the scenes went on he kept helping the MC until the very end of the book(which made me ask WHY?) I discovered that while he does betray the MC he's not doing it out of spite(he actually likes the MC) but because he needed the MC to get to this point(the end) so that he could obtain his own desires/goals(some of which conflict with the MC.)

flarue
11-22-2011, 12:21 AM
Oh, that's great!!!!

I know! lol I can't decide whether to keep it in or not. I kept thinking, "What do you mean you were a cheerleader? Aren't you supposed to be the completely uncoordinated one and bad at dancing and/or gymnastics? Is there something else important you haven't told me yet about your past? I kind of need to know these things." :tongue

Promethean Dreams
11-22-2011, 01:29 AM
I would think that you recently met or thought about someone who subconsciously reminds you of the character and your mind is connecting the dots.

Creative_Solitude
11-22-2011, 01:39 AM
This is sooo true! lol I just started another WIP last month, a romance novel where both hero and heroine were supposed to be African American, but the hero wasn't having it. Try as hard as I could to make him a man of color, every time I tried to write a scene between him and her, I kept seeing his as a Caucasion in my mind instead of an African American man. So that's who he is. I can't fight what it is...lol

I love it when the characters take over. That's when I really start feeling the story and when things really start coming together. I have deviated from many an outline because the characters kept stubbornly doing their own thing instead of letting me stick with my original plan. So I just let them have their way with the story.