When Fictional Characters Attack – A New FOX Special

Characters; without them where would writers be? In a sad state of affairs that’s where, but at the same time there are days I would love to commit fictional homicide. Why you may ask? If you ask that question with a straight face, I have doubts that you’re a writer. If you’re a writer and have never had the urge to murder these lovely tulpas that spring from your imagination some admiration is in order. Not to mention you need to find out why, bottle it, and sell it on the open market. You could make a bloody fortune.

I once had a friend of mine ask me how a character could take over a story and do what it wanted when I’m the writer. Sadly, I couldn’t get her to understand no matter how hard I tried. She stated that the very idea that the writer cannot control the character was just stupid. That was when I knew that she’d never understand where I was coming from and chose not to discuss the creative process with her any longer. That really saddened me, but some people will never understand because there are writers and then there are non-writers.

Yes, I create the characters, but that doesn’t mean the characters will cooperate. I decided a long time ago that the writer/character relationship is somewhat like the creator/human relationship. At this point, I’m sure I heard a number of eyebrows shooting skyward at that comparison. If you take a moment to think, it is an apt comparison. The creator (writer) decides on a world fleshing it out and in the process creates the inhabitants of said world (characters). We have a plan, but during the process, we realize that for anyone to give a damn about these characters they have to evolve into their own people and that is where the problems begin. We want them to have freewill, but at the same time, we want enough control so they’ll follow where we lead.

 Here’s an example. I’m working on the first book of a series that involves a group of strangers drawn together by one man to form a paranormal investigative team. The first book is always the most difficult simply because you have to introduce the characters and establish their personalities without boring the reader. The team consists of three men: a gay psychologist, an ex-military security specialist and trained Babaolorisha, and a computer engineer/tech geek. Then there are two women: an opinionated Irish psychic and a shy Hispanic/Scottish girl with double degrees in History and Business Management. I thought I had these characters figured out. I even wrote detailed character profiles, which I rarely do, but felt was necessary considering this is a lengthy series.

Forget that!

Last night my muses decided to wake up around 8 pm and started to cooperate. That was until the stubborn Irish wench and the lil’ shy girl decided they would share a meaningful gaze–WTH? I stopped and reread the paragraph numerous times, scratched my head, and thought again-WTH? It appears that there may be some lesbian love blooming there. Now I didn’t see that one coming–Not that I’m complaining, but when did that happen?

One of the lessons I’ve still not learned (it’s that stubborn Irish blood I think) is that the characters once given freewill will eventually pull a quick one every time. I try not to be surprised, but I always am. I had not planned for these two women to have that type of connection, but they chose to go there. Whether it evolves into a full-blown love connection, I can’t say. If it does then this is the journey the characters need to experience.

Therefore, writers out there, I pose one question. Have any of your characters taken on a life of their own and bitch smacked your plans for them out in left field?


8 comments on “When Fictional Characters Attack – A New FOX Special

  1. I love this article! Everyone has their own style of creating stories, but for me the characters need to have a will of their own. Each one has his/her own personality and that means I don’t always agree with what the characters say or do. If I started directing the characters according to how I think they should act in a situation as opposed to how their personality leads them to act then I don’t feel as if I’m being true to the story. Some characters might have similarities to me so I can agree with their words and actions more, but they’re still a separate “person.” I usually feel as if the characters tell me their part in the story.

    • Thank you so much for commenting. I’ve always felt this way about my characters. Sometimes they can be little rapscallions who throw an excellent curve ball at me. My stubborn nature sometimes makes me argue, but in the end they always win with a thumb of their nose and a lovely raspberry on top.

      There is not one character that I dislike in all my writing. I even adore the villains in their wickedness. They most definitely tell me their stories as if dictating a biography. They also have no problem rolling their eyes at me and telling me when I’m full of shit. LOL

  2. Oh honey. I could tell you STORIES about the stories.

    We had the damnedest time keeping Will Scarlet straight in the recent Robin Hood novel. And right now, Naomi’s muse is sunning himself on a beach like the big lazy Leo he is. It’s gorgeous…but not helpful.

    I love my boys, but they make me SO crazy sometimes.

    • I bet you could! LOL

      Was Will wanting to sample what was on the other side of the fench or should I say woods? *grins*

      I swear my muses must be related to mine in some bizarre six-degrees of Kevin Bacon way. Earlier this week I swear they were down old Mexico way, soaking up the sun, and swimming in a fountain of tequila.

      Well, I’m in good company then. I’m in a constant state of crazy. 😉

      • Sample nothing. He was planning on pulling up to a five-course dinner that included sweetness on a sleeping platform, wildness with a restrained Robin (had to be tied down to keep him from charging into town and getting capture. The scene didn’t make the book), you name it.

        But Robin got his lady. Will is straight and even Little John got a happy ending…

        Gotta keep Tout of the tequila. 8) I think all the muses are related in some big cosmic way.

        It’s ridiculous how far off track they’ll get if I let them.

      • Wow! *fanself* He was definitely getting in the groove wasn’t he? LOL

        Glad to know everything worked out despite his naughtiness. 🙂

  3. This is wonderful! I have a character who not only does his own thing much of the time, but asserted his own personality over the one I tried to give him. He turned out to be more serious and down-to-earth than I’d been planning on, but I love him all the same. Because he IS so practical, he often resists when I try to make him do things that just don’t ring true. It’s actually kind of comforting to think that the character himself will help keep me from writing him OUT of character.

    Elle Parker

  4. I feel so much better knowing that I’m not an alien. For so long I thought it was just me that had no control over my characters. It’s comforting to know that there are other writers out there that deal with assertive lil’ bastards. LOL

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