Sunday, December 13, 2009

A Mind of Her Own

I just read a quote from a famous author about characters taking on lives of their own. He said it's "exciting" when a character does something surprising or unplanned, when she becomes her own person. Exciting? I suppose. Irritating? Definitely.

I'm finishing up my current Work-in-Progress. I'm so anxious to finish, I can barely sleep (not unusual for me, which you may have already guessed from the title of my blog.) I want to spend every available second on this book, getting it to the point where I can send it out to my faithful critiquers (you know who you are - thanks, guys!) and find out if it's the masterpiece I think it is, or if it, as my Wad-mate Amy puts it, "sucks rocks."

So, everything's going along just fine, I'm revising about a chapter a day and staying right on schedule, and then, boom! Tabitha, my main character, decides she doesn't like my version of events, and she's going to do things her own way.

But you can't, I say. I created you, and if I tell you it's time to send Griffin packing, then you'd better do it.

Not a chance, Tabby answers. I've spent a good twenty chapters falling for this guy, and I'm not ready to let him go just yet.

But you're in love with Murphy, I tell her, just the tiniest hint of whine in my voice.

Yes, she says (good, at least she agrees with that!) But maybe I'm in love with both of them.

Excuse me??? As the author, I really should have seen this coming. It took me over a month to carefully and painstakingly develop my outline down to the nitty gritty details. I thought I had it all figured out. But part of that outline was character development. I guess that's where Tabby got a mind of her own.

So, do I force Tabby to give Griffin the boot? I can't do that, not if I want readers to believe in my book. For all the blood, sweat, and tears I've put in, it's still Tabitha's story. And if I want her to be a living, breathing character, then I guess I'll have to go wherever she takes me. It may be messier this way, but I have to admit, it's also a lot more fun.

Until next Sunday, happy writing, and may your coffee pot never run dry.


Amy Allgeyer Cook said...

Maybe you put Griffin in a situation or give him a character trait the FORCES Tabby to boot him (meth addict, father of an illegitiment baby, etc). More heart-rending drama that way. And Murphy can swing in and save the day by being Mr. Joe-Average Perfect guy...or whatever he has going for him. :)

Susan Fields said...

Oh, the crisis is averted - I already did the rewriting (probably wouldn't have been able to joke about it in my blog if I hadn't - I'd still be in crisis mode.) I can't tell you how it ends up though - wouldn't want to spoil it for you, my faithful critiquer!

wkkredfox said...

Sue, that sounds a lot like real life! Have a plan for how it should go and then .... boom .... things get messy. Chuck's daughter Kris's new baby boy is named Griffin! Hopefully he'll never get jilted for being a meth addict or fathering an illegitimate baby. I guess he needs to start with solid food first!!

Tess said...

You know things are interesting when they shake up like this ... must be getting good :D

Sharon Mayhew said...

You are one amazing writer, friend. I hope that when some unnamed agent comes to his or her senses you'll be able to sleep a few hours longer at night. :)

Susan Fields said...

Paula, a friend of mine has a son named Griffin and I've always loved that name - that would be Kevin's name if Scott weren't so stubborn. And the Griffin in my book isn't a meth addict - he's a super intelligent biology whiz kid.

Tess, I totally think this little complication made it a better book. You're absolutely right, that's when things get good. I guess that's why we, as writers, should welcome our characters taking on lives of their own, even if it does get messy at times!

Sharon, I hope so too!!!