You've spent hours creating the perfect hero and heroine for your latest novel. You have elaborate character charts detailing everything from their eye color to their darkest secret to their favorite food. Inside and outside - you know all there is to know about them.
Then, bam, it happens. Your carefully crafted characters go and do something you didn't see coming. It seems out of left field for them. Why did they do that? Their off-script actions change the entire course of the story. What do you do?
As a pantser, this is the exciting part of writing to me. Still, it can mess up the direction you thought the story was headed. Why did he say that? Why did she go there?
This is the point at which you have to examine this character. Ask the following questions:
1. Is this too unbelievably out of character? If it's beyond the realm of what the character would ever do, if it pops the readers out of the fictional dream, scratching their heads in bewilderment, then it's best to not go in that direction. But don't shy away from a surprising twist. Sometimes, a character will do something you don't expect but that you can understand. That makes for good reading.
2. Does it change the story for the better? If you can see the story being taken in a different, better direction, then it's a change you'll want to be sure to make. If it only changes the story for change's sake, then it's probably not worth it.
3. If you don't want to make the change, why not? Look at the reason why you're hesitating. I've fought making the change to the character and plot line because it would require a huge rewrite. After a while, I gave into my instincts and made the change. Guess what? Way better story. But are you hesitating because you aren't sure it will work in the long run? Write a few pages and re-examine after that. You'll have more clarity at that point.
4. What would a reader/critique partner/editor say about this? Asking this question can be a great gauge as to whether or not to make a change. Sometimes you have to actually ask the person. As I write, I often hear my readers, critique partner, and editor screaming in my head. I've learned not to ignore them. It saves them a lot trouble later LOL!
In the end, follow your instincts. You're the author. You hold the characters in the palm of your hand. Yes, they tend to go rogue on us. It's up to us to corral them if that's what is best for the story.
Mom to two and stepmom to four, I'm navigating the tweens and teens while battling my daughter's juvenile arthritis, exploring the delights of my son's Asperger's, keeping gluten free, and, oh yeah, running my own creative project management business along the way. A California native transplanted to the Midwest, my favorite thing is discovering with my husband how much there is to love about seasons, snow, and the delight that is Michigan.
Tighten Your Writing Muscles
Have you wondered what they are referring too?
Writing tight is a workout for your prose. When you work that muscle your stories will sparkle.
Copyright: sjenner13 / 123RF Stock Photo
That's great but how does one workout
If yes, then start removing words that don't need to be there- just, actually and really should be the first to go.
Search out the ly, ing, and ess words, those add pounds to your sentences. Be ruthless!
Take a look at your dialogue tags.
"Do you have something like this?" She inquired incredulously.
If you do, you're going to need to buy a bigger notebook for your manuscript. Instead, try this: "Do you have something like this?" She held up a tattered notebook.
Rip out words that are redundant. You've seen them and laughed, admit it. Free Complimentary Breakfast says the same thing twice.
Search out places where you are describing actions instead of showing. Margie Lawson calls this walking the dog. You don't have to tell the reader that Max, the dog needs to go outside, but first you have to find the leash, then clip it to his collar, after you make him sit.
All you need is this: Jake took Max outside to do his business.
If you're writing nonfiction watch out for phrases like- -this reminds me or let me tell you about. Those are the equivalent of adding 24 donuts to your word diet every day.
Writing tight takes practice, workout with your WIP (work in progress) and soon you'll have that write tight muscle memory working for you.
Christian author, Diana Lesire Brandmeyer, writes historical and contemporary romances. Author of Mind of Her Own, A Bride's Dilemma in Friendship, Tennessee and We’re Not Blended-We’re Pureed, A Survivor’s Guide to Blended Families. Once widowed and now remarried she writes with humor and experience on the difficulty of joining two families be it fictional or real life.
Bigger. Better. Together.
Stories of love, blending and bonding.