PDA

View Full Version : Allowing my characters to lead has worked out well!



Christyp
11-26-2011, 10:42 PM
I had posted about how my characters grabbed the reins from my hands. The story flows so much easier with them leading than it did when I tried to control the plot.

Do you guys find it easier to write when you let your characters lead, instead of writing plot driven stories?

Drachen Jager
11-26-2011, 11:52 PM
All stories should be character driven. The plot should be written in such a way that your characters want to go from A to B of their own accord.

Just IMO.

swvaughn
11-27-2011, 12:04 AM
Between these choices:

-Stuff happens to interesting characters

-Interesting stuff happens to characters

I find it far easier to write the first. When you have interesting characters, stuff just tends to happen.

When you have interesting stuff you want to happen, you often have to shoehorn characters into it.

Because characters are supposed to be people, their reactions to stuff happening might not be what the plot you have in mind requires to move forward.

Much easier to let the plot change to suit the characters.

So, yes. I let my characters lead. :)

gothicangel
11-27-2011, 12:14 AM
All stories should be character driven.

I'm going to play Devil's Advocate here. I love character driven stories, but I love plot driven stories too. I know plenty of writers on AW who write plot driven novels.

My own philosophy is that plot and character are of equal importance. To paraphrase Aristotle: plot is character, and character is plot. Sometimes plot does act on your MC, without the MC having triggered that plot event.

I think its over simplifying to say 'all stories should be X.'

swvaughn
11-27-2011, 12:22 AM
I know plenty of writers on AW who write plot driven novels.

Out of sheer curiosity, I wonder how many who write plot-driven novels are outliners?

This I wonder because I am a pantser, and I absolutely cannot write to a pre-determined plot -- no matter how hard I try. It always, always changes on me. If I didn't play follow-the-character, I'd never finish a book. :)

Not trying to start yet another outline-vs-pants debate here, or say that one method is better than the other. I'm an advocate of using whatever works for you.

Just curious whether there's a correlation here...

Drachen Jager
11-27-2011, 12:31 AM
I'm an outliner, but I write plots which have built-in character motivations. If A has to kill B by the end of the book, then at some point before the end of the book B has to do something horrible to A that makes A want to kill B. Plot and character are intertwined. It would make no sense to have one without the other, even pantsters have to have the basic story elements for their story to work.

There has to be a plot, but it cannot be independent of character.

scarletpeaches
11-27-2011, 12:32 AM
Between these choices:

-Stuff happens to interesting characters

-Interesting stuff happens to characters

I find it far easier to write the first.I'm more into the 'interesting people make interesting things happen' kinda books. With lots of smexy smex, of course. ;)

My first published novel was completely pantsed (which is interesting, as the characters' pants kept coming off) and I let the characters take the lead. Well, with Leo I didn't really have a choice...

However, even when I outline, the little bastids still take over. I remember with one chapter of By the Book, Reece was supposed to do something, but Daniel was all like, "I'ma take care of this," and it worked out better than I'd planned. What do I know? I'm only the author...

leahzero
11-27-2011, 12:39 AM
I'm an outliner, but I write plots which have built-in character motivations. If A has to kill B by the end of the book, then at some point before the end of the book B has to do something horrible to A that makes A want to kill B. Plot and character are intertwined. It would make no sense to have one without the other, even pantsters have to have the basic story elements for their story to work.

There has to be a plot, but it cannot be independent of character.

I was gonna comment but, well:

This.

swvaughn
11-27-2011, 12:42 AM
I'm more into the 'interesting people make interesting things happen' kinda books. With lots of smexy smex, of course. ;)


Yeah, that. :D The stuff can't help but be interesting when it's happening to interesting characters.

Drachen: I agree that plot and character must both be present. It's just that my plot is far more likely to drift from my plans than my characters are. :)

gothicangel
11-27-2011, 01:22 AM
I'm an outliner, but I write plots which have built-in character motivations. If A has to kill B by the end of the book, then at some point before the end of the book B has to do something horrible to A that makes A want to kill B. Plot and character are intertwined. It would make no sense to have one without the other, even pantsters have to have the basic story elements for their story to work.

There has to be a plot, but it cannot be independent of character.

I didn't say it wasn't. I believe I said that the best novels are a combination of both.

I'm going to use an extreme example: Dan Brown's DVC. There is no way you could call that book character driven, it's pure plot. Clue A leads to clue B . . . that leads to clue C . . . etc. As for characterisation it's so cardboard that I'm being polite calling it that. Characters are purely a device of the plot.

gothicangel
11-27-2011, 01:34 AM
Out of sheer curiosity, I wonder how many who write plot-driven novels are outliners?

This I wonder because I am a pantser, and I absolutely cannot write to a pre-determined plot -- no matter how hard I try. It always, always changes on me. If I didn't play follow-the-character, I'd never finish a book. :)

Not trying to start yet another outline-vs-pants debate here, or say that one method is better than the other. I'm an advocate of using whatever works for you.

Just curious whether there's a correlation here...

I'm a panster too.

I don't know if I genuinely play 'follow the character' then I would get too into my research and have my MC moving between bath-houses, taverns and ampitheatres of ancient Rome. :)

I do let my MC take control, but I always have plot foremost in my mind - especially when writing the first draft. For example, I sat down tonight to write and all I knew was that my MC was going to be at a chariot-racing training ground. It wasn't until a page into the chapter that I realised he was going to meet a frumentarii who will be important later in the book. I don't know all the details, but I do have a loose synopsis planned out in my head.

swvaughn
11-27-2011, 01:44 AM
I'm a panster too.

I don't know if I genuinely play 'follow the character' then I would get too into my research and have my MC moving between bath-houses, taverns and ampitheatres of ancient Rome. :)

LOL! Could be fun, but I can see how it'd be difficult to get a plot in there somewhere. :D


I do let my MC take control, but I always have plot foremost in my mind - especially when writing the first draft. For example, I sat down tonight to write and all I knew was that my MC was going to be at a chariot-racing training ground. It wasn't until a page into the chapter that I realised he was going to meet a frumentarii who will be important later in the book. I don't know all the details, but I do have a loose synopsis planned out in my head.

I love when characters stick their heads in and announce, "Here I am! Oh, and by the way... I'm important." :)

scarletpeaches
11-27-2011, 01:55 AM
I read that as 'impotent'...which my characters never are. :D

Wayne K
11-27-2011, 02:00 AM
My impotent character was beaten to death with a glass dildo

Tepelus
11-27-2011, 05:14 AM
My impotent character was beaten to death with a glass dildo

Ouch!

Christyp
11-27-2011, 08:00 AM
I think you all should know I'm giggling so much at some of your responses that my kids came running down thinking I was watching a funny show.

Glass dildo....LOL!

Becky Black
11-27-2011, 12:48 PM
I don't so much let them take the lead on the plot, though there are times they balk like a horse refusing a jump, or they want to do something I never planned. Mostly I let them lead on their characterisation and their interaction with each other - which sometimes ends up affecting plot anyway.

I think it's all down to trusting my subconscious. I can't hold everything I know about the characters at the top of my mind all at once, so most of it is down in the subconscious, making connections, interacting with what I know about other characters. That's why they can end up surprising me, even though everything about them comes from my own brain.

firedrake
11-27-2011, 01:21 PM
I've found that if I let my characters dictate the story, it works a lot better.

Example: The novel I'm waiting for a contract on was meant to have an entirely different ending. I got to a point about 2/3 into the story and the MC told me he wanted to be with someone else by the end. Not only did it make for a better story but it dragged me out of the mid-book slump.

bearilou
11-27-2011, 02:25 PM
I don't so much let them take the lead on the plot, though there are times they balk like a horse refusing a jump, or they want to do something I never planned. Mostly I let them lead on their characterisation and their interaction with each other - which sometimes ends up affecting plot anyway.

I think it's all down to trusting my subconscious. I can't hold everything I know about the characters at the top of my mind all at once, so most of it is down in the subconscious, making connections, interacting with what I know about other characters. That's why they can end up surprising me, even though everything about them comes from my own brain.

This. *waves hands all over comment* Everything Becky said.

I'm a plotter, I have ideas about things that will happen and getting from beginning to end and hitting all the points of necessity in between. I've had characters that seemingly took off at a 90degree without notice, leaving me going 'y u do dat?' only to discover that my plot may not have been as tight as I thought and through my subconscious discovered a much better route to the end. :D

Becky Black
11-27-2011, 06:11 PM
This. *waves hands all over comment* Everything Becky said.

I'm a plotter, I have ideas about things that will happen and getting from beginning to end and hitting all the points of necessity in between. I've had characters that seemingly took off at a 90degree without notice, leaving me going 'y u do dat?' only to discover that my plot may not have been as tight as I thought and through my subconscious discovered a much better route to the end. :D

Yeah, it's the grab the wheel moment. Like I'm tootling along with all the passengers/characters in the car and suddenly one of them takes the wheel and says actually they know a much better route to where we're going.

kaitie
11-27-2011, 09:52 PM
I think my characters have pretty much always led the story. Sometimes I'll have a plot point that I know in advance and I work backwards, but even in that case the characters are the ones leading. I just have to discover what got them from point A to point B.

I'm also a plotter, which doesn't mean I don't consider character, but that I have to understand the characters before I start rather than discovering them as I go. I let them run around in my head for months before I start writing. They also tend to change things up on me, but I don't mind that. Outlines are generally more guidelines for me than rubrics that must be followed.

Becky Black
11-27-2011, 10:09 PM
kaitie, that sounds pretty much the same way I work too. My outline is always flexible and ready to be tweaked. It tends to be quite detailed and set for the start of the story and aside from some scenes that are very clear in my mind, become looser towards the end. Because I've learned it's no good deciding exactly how those later scenes are going to go, because once I start writing the characters will get more and more confident about taking charge. And however well I think I know them, they will change when they start to walk and talk and of course go through the events of the story.

Christyp
11-27-2011, 11:55 PM
I actually outlined this book beforehand, but it has taken so many turns from the original storyline that I've just thrown the whole thing out. Still the same major plot points, but the subplots and characters have gone so far from where I started...