Thursday, February 17, 2011

Who runs this show?

Is it the puppet, or the puppeteer?

Or, in the case of who controls the varied twists and turns of a story: Is it the writer or the character?

The answer is always, to me, and most everyone else I hear from: the characters. So much so that a complaint of a character hijacking the story to do something entirely new and unanticipated is: commonplace.

However that's not how I feel about my stories...not yet, at least. Perhaps it comes with time?

I would never want a character to do something out of character (just for kicks) unless there was a good reason they had been forced that way, but...I don't know. So why don't I feel that way in my "gut" quite yet? Maybe it takes time to digest.

I like to think that I do a decent outline (I also thought this a while back, and then realized that I was horribly, disaster-laden...wrong, but I'm certain I'm better now...), and perhaps I get into the character's head well enough that what I "want" from the story and what the characters end up doing goes hand-in-hand.


Or maybe I'm just not cognizant of the character-upstaging phenomena quite yet.

For the writers out there, what is your experience?


  1. My characters often run loose in my head, going "hey, you need to write about this!" and so forth. As long as I can stick to a plot, I'll cut 'em some slack. It's their story after all, they know what happened better than I do. I call it organic writing, it grows on its own.

    I've often found that trying to force the story in a direction it's not supposed to go results in getting blocked. When I accept their direction, I can pound out thousands of words at a sitting.

  2. I totally agree, I just haven't really noticed the characters taking the reigns yet. Perhaps I hold the reigns too tightly, but everything that has transpired in my stories has so far seemed to make total sense (naturally, that is coming from the biased take THAT with a healthy does of salt).

    Or maybe it's because my writing time is usually broken up into very small chunks. So I often think through scenes when I'm not actively typing and the end results are already known. One of these days I'll have to figure out what I'm doing. It might help.



Thanks for reading, now tell me what you think.