Characters: Disobedient Bastards

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Me: “Okay, Lead Character, I need you to have this conversation, walk through this door and then stab this baddie.”

Character: “Uh, no.”

Me: “What, in the flying fornication, do you mean ‘No’?”

Character: “You’re trying to make me do something I don’t want to do, and that I would never do, at least not in the way you want me to do it. Worse, you know that, don’t you?”

Me: “~Grumble, Grumble~ Shut up!”

Character: “Yeah, nice comeback, Jackass.”

Okay, so I don’t actually have conversations with my characters, because that would mean I’d be having in depth discussions with the voices in my head and that would make me crazy. But I think you get the idea.

Often, while working on a story, especially a novel length story where I’ve really fleshed out and “gotten to know” the characters, I find they don’t always behave as I want them to. I don’t mean to say that they appear to me in my writing room, and then beat me up and steal my microwave, but I often plan something for a scene and then don’t get there because the character won’t do it.

I’ll have certain goals for a scene, to advance the plot and move the story along, but I can’t always work my way into doing it. I find it especially happens with dialogue; I want the characters to say certain things, but as the conversation carries on and grows the characters will say what is in their nature – the nature I have created for them – and won’t necessarily say what I need them to. Then, I have to stop and rethink the scene, and figure out how I’m going to trick the smarmy bastards into doing what I want.

This is a symbol, to me, of success. It means that the characters are alive enough, in my empty head, that they have established patterns of behaviour that I cannot make them deviate from. They will listen to suggestion, allow themselves to be steered slightly, but if I try to make them do something they would never do on their own they rebel and tell me to take a flying fornication at a rolling donut.

My only hope is that I can make my character as alive to the reader, my audience, as well. If they don’t believe in the characters then the story falls flat, and I might as well take up knitting.

But, I imagine that if my character is developed enough to give me the finger and do as they please, then I’m at least taking the right steps to be on my way…with the character standing behind me giving me bad, purposefully deceptive, directions.

Did I mention some of my characters are bastards?

Let me know what you think.