Monday, December 15, 2008

I Have Lost Control of My Characters

If I ever had it, that is. Over the weekend this work-in-progress took a dark turn as something bad happened to a character I've come to really like.

I say "happened" like I had nothing to do with it, and that's in fact exactly what it felt like. He made a series of bad choices and they caught up with him and it was heartbreaking to read it -- to discover it appearing on the screen even though I was the one typing it. The worst part was, once I realized it was happening, I knew it had to happen that way. There have to be consequences, otherwise the story is a cheat somehow.

Still, it affected me. Strangely and intensely, sending me into a sadness for most of Sunday. The upside, of course (to paraphrase Stephen King) is that if even I didn't know this was coming, it will surprise readers even more.

24000 words and change so far. I'm coming for you, 30,000!


*~sis~* said...

that's interesting, coming to terms with the character. i'm trying to figure out if my little characters need to be developed more in my head first or if i should just let them flow onto the paper. curious to know how everyone else does this...

S R Wood said...

Hi Sis, I wish I knew the answer to your question. I'm not sure I could write a draft with the characters fully formed, since part of what happens in that first draft (for me, anyway) is that I discover who they are, what they care about, what they're afraid of, etc.

Of course you have to have some of that pinned down before starting, but I try to stay flexible.

Sometimes there's a dialogue between the draft and my notes, where I might revise the outline to account for the direction the story is taking, or try to steer the story back to the outline. I have to admit, though, in the first draft I don't worry too much about that stuff, I just get. it. down. on. paper.