Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Story Jumps Boundaries, Characters Are Out of Control

Lynnette's story began as a simple novel of suspense. The first outline had only one chapter that was not in Lynnette's point of view. Then one of the bad guys grew bigger than the part I had given him, so I wrote some chapters from his point of view. He was only a minor bad guy, so it became necessary to give the major bad guy a bigger part in the story. Scenes from his point of view clarified the plot. I now had the outline of a multiple point of view novel written in 3rd person past tense. It was looking good.

That single original non-Lynnette point of view chapter that I mentioned in the second sentence, however, created the need for a sub-plot taking place half a country away from Lynnette's location. Yep, I needed scenes from the cops' point of view. There was a good cop, and her partner, and the detective with a nasty attitude. I reined this team in, thank goodness, and let the good female cop keep all the police action. It was hard pushing the bossy detective around, but the good female cop helped me out on that.

While I had my back turned, concentrating on the cops, my first minor bad guy dropped dead. What? I didn't plan for that to happen. I loved writing scenes while pretending to be this guy--using foul language and acting like a slimeball. It was great. How could my story move forward without this guy?

Okay, I obviously had to bring another minor bad guy into the mix. He, unfortunately, showed up with a sub-plot of his own. Holy crap, I thought. Where did this guy come from and why is he messing with my plot?

I sat back today and listened to my characters fight about their roles in my (their?) novel and whether I even know what I'm doing with a story this big. They seem to want control. They want this book to be less of a suspense novel and more of a thriller, and they have some great ideas how to make it work.

Isn't this writing gig weird?

16 comments:

GutsyWriter said...

I cannot even go there as I have never experienced this. As you know I'm writing a memoir and I so admire creative authors. It must feel like a boost of endorphins when your characters start bossing you around.

Paul D. Brazill said...

Patricia, this is perfect for me right now as I've started a novel and it seems to spilling out POVs!It's giving me a headache!

Terry Odell said...

Yeah, I didn't even know who my villain was until about 2/3 of the way through the book. And I didn't know my cop was going to demand to be a POV characters, and that the romance angle wasn't going to happen for the two characters I thought were in charge of the book. (I know, I know, authors are supposed to be in charge. Doesn't always work that way.)

Karen Walker said...

So having voices inside your head other than your own is "NORMAL" for writers? Like GutsyWriter, I've only written memoir. But now this voice/energy is kind of telling me what to do.
Karen

The Old Silly said...

LOL, I SO relate to this post. My characters wake me up at night sometimes demanding I write them doing this or that - NOW!

Marvin D Wilson

Terry Odell said...

I believe Meg Chittenden said, "Being a writer means you can hear voices in your head and they don't lock you up in a rubber room." Or something to that effect anyway.

Kerrie said...

I hate it when characters I am writing suddenly drop dead.

Patricia Stoltey said...

There is safety in numbers, Terry. There aren't enough rubber rooms to hold all of us.

Marvin, do you jump out of bed and dash to the computer when that happens?

Paul, I tried to cut back the POV characters in this novel early on but it didn't work. I'm going to let them have their way and see where it leads.

For Gutsy Writer and Karen -- don't you have this problem just a little bit when you try to reconstruct dialogue for memoir?

Patricia Stoltey said...

Hi Kerrie -- It was quite a shock when it happened. I'd created all the right conditions but had planned for the character to display rage, to rant and rave. Guess he wasn't up to it.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I love it! Those characters bully us sometimes, don't they? Sounds like this WIP is going really well. A thriller? Cool.

Elizabeth
Mystery Writing is Murder

Carol Kilgore said...

Yes! This is what I love the most about writing. I think all characters are bossy. If they could type, they wouldn't need me at all except as a referee.

Patricia Stoltey said...

My amateur sleuth characters were sassy, but they never tried to shanghai the plot, for Pete's sake. This book is turning out to be way more fun, even if it is taking me forever to write it.

Elspeth Antonelli said...

Can't characters be a pain sometimes? I have one whining right now that I'm not paying enough attention to him and my response has been 'well, do something then, or you're going to get deleted!' I can't imagine writing my WIP in anything but multiple POVs simply because its an ensemble of characters. We'll see...

Yours seems to be going well, maybe it IS a thriller. Why not?

Elspeth

Kay Theodoratus said...

My characters are always taking the "bit in their mouthes", mostly because I can't outline worth a (&^$#&. Sounds like you've got an exciting ride ahead.

Elizabeth Bradley said...

It's fun when the twists and turns we didn't plan for materialize, isn't it? Your story sounds intriguing and exciting to me.

Rayna M. Iyer said...

I think it is turning out to be a great book. Once the characters take control, expect the unexpected!