Neridah had another writing question for me this week.
Sometimes when I have written a structured Plot Diagram and Chapter Outline for longer books, when I sit down to actually write it, some of my characters start to do things outside of these carefully made plans. This sounds crazy and I spend a fair bit of time trying to reign them back in or I go back to the Chapter Outline and modify it. In your opinion is this normal for writers?
I find that when characters take me in a completely new direction it’s usually because I’ve got to know them better and they are telling me, “This is what I would really do if I were a real person. This is how I would really act.”
So in my opinion, this scenario is quite normal for writers – especially those who know their characters well or are getting to know them better.
I’m not sure what other people think about this, but my advice would be to embrace the actions of contrary characters – let them take you in the direction they want to go. Allow their world to be turned on its axis.
If you think that the direction your character is heading will add tension or conflict or enhance your story in some other way then go with it. If that means you have to adjust your plot outline then that’s what I would do.
I had an extreme case of this with my YA thriller series that I was awarded my May Gibbs Fellowship for. One of my minor characters got so active and rebellious that she has ended up with a book of her own.
Writing a novel is constant process of evolution. As you progress, characters change, plots change and even you as a writer can change.
In some respects, a character is like an adventurous child – you have to give them the freedom to explore.
But unlike a child, your character should be encouraged to venture into danger. The more danger, the more at risk they are, the better.
Neridah, I hope this answers your question.
Have fun with your characters – let them loose, I say:)
If anyone would like to share their opinion or experience, feel free to comment at the end of this post. If you have a writing question of your own to ask, you can also use the comments section.
Thanks for your great questions Neridah.