Wednesday, 5 January 2011

When Characters Misbehave

Do you plot?

All the books on plotting make it seem so simple. You need a beginning, a middle and an end and various plot twists along the way and Bob's Your Uncle there's a template to follow. If only it were that easy.

The trouble is getting my characters to comply. I can spend months meticulously researching and planning and when I'm finally ready for the off I make the fundamental mistake of casting a bunch of bolshie prima donnas who proceed to flounce up and down, trampling my exquisitely crafted plot into the carpet. They have their own ideas about what to do and say and no amount of jumping up and down on my part will convince them otherwise. I'm all for democracy, but surely I'm the author and they should at least pretend to take some notice of what I expect from them?

I've tried several ways around this problem. In a recent project the lead was relegated to being a supporting character, in another a bit part was promoted to antagonist. But it all involves massive rewrites. Perhaps the fault is mine. Am I casting the wrong characters from the get go, or has word got round that I'm a soft touch and will tolerate them all sitting around bitching about me in chapter three? It's probably the latter because I confess I have a soft spot for my characters and am not nearly firm enough with them. That's the trouble with spending too much time alone with fictional characters - they run rings round you.


Kate said...

Bad characters! Glad mine aren't the only ones to do this!

Lexi said...

The answer is not to plan too much, then your time won't be wasted when the bit part character takes centre stage.

This happened to me in my WIP, but since I don't plan, I just went with the flow.

Okay, so I'm smug :o)

Fiona Faith Maddock said...

I think when they are that insistent it's probably better to let them have their own way. I bet it makes for a more gripping storyline. I love the illustration by the way.

Sandra Patterson said...

I am a great believer in the story evolving in ways you don't plan, but having a road map always appeals to the control freak in me. Maybe that's why my characters rebel.