1. ddavidv
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    ddavidv Contributing Member

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    Battle of the female characters

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by ddavidv, Sep 2, 2013.

    My MC is a single male on a journey to figure out why he can't love unconditionally, though he doesn't realize this is his problem. There are two female 'leads' in my story: Lauren is the safe, nice, girl-next-door who he had already begun a relationship with. Annie is the careless, motorcycle riding dark character that holds the key to his finding the answer. He will have to leave Lauren to go on a journey of discovery with Annie (and another male character, a father figure). Originally, I had planned on writing Lauren out somewhere in the first third of the story.

    Then Lauren leaned over and kissed my MC, and they made love.

    I didn't plan this; it just came out of the keyboard, and it worked beautifully while completely screwing up my preconceived idea of what my story outline was. Frankly, I was so excited by this accidental change that I have been bursting to tell someone! This has never happened before, but then I never really outlined a story in such detail before. I've returned to creative writing after a very, very long absence.

    So, the day after their tryst, because of a necessary plot twist the relationship has temporarily cooled. I don't expect a repeat before MC discovers Annie and goes off on his journey. But, I am now less than sure of who MC will ultimately wind up with. He will fall for Annie as she will be sultry and irresistible (without her trying; she will feign disinterest) but I worry that Lauren may have pushed herself into contention for riding off happily into the sunset with the MC. MC will certainly have to choose, where before it was preordained.

    I'm not really looking for a an answer to which character MC should wind up with, I'm just venting my awe and some frustration at how characters can take over a story with a simple act. I realize I'm ultimately 'god' and can do what I want with them, but this direction just felt so right after it was written I dare not change it. How have you dealt with this, assuming it's occurred?
     
  2. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    I've had characters come to life so prominently that they almost completely take over and drive the story. I think it is a good thing. What you can do to balance this is develop milestones and scenes that the characters have to reach throughout the story, and then let their actions and choices drive them to those scenes. Shoot, you can even let them change some of the milestones.

    When it comes to character driven fiction I like to think its the character's story, the author is just telling it. Of course as the author we do have a lot of say. But in letting the characters become real people, writing their story becomes as much an adventure for the writer as it is for the reader. And it really allows you to view the characters and get to know them in case you need to change things, plotwise.

    I wrote a story about a character who was an acting god in his universe and there was certainly a moment when I realized he didn't drive the story enough, then another point later when he was really orchestrating everyone else. It got very complicated, so I shelved it for now to deal with less complex characters.
     
  3. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    This actually happens a lot when I'm writing with KaTrian. We often have a storyline planned out, a rough idea of where it starts, how it ends, and what important things happen in-between, but more often than not, somewhere in the middle the characters just take over and then we end up with some very happy accidents. So far it's always been a good thing when this has happened. Don't get me wrong; it can be annoying as hell when things don't turn out like you'd want them to, but ultimately we've always realized that the story couldn't have turned out any other way.

    It sounds all magical and whatnot but it really isn't; I believe it's got a lot to do with the simple fact that when we start writing a new story, we don't know our characters all that well yet even if we had filled out data sheets and whatever, but after some 50k words or so, we start to have a pretty solid grasp on who we're dealing with, and that's when the characters come alive and we start to understand what choices of theirs make sense ("psychological plausibility") and what were imposed on them by us. Then we go back and change the things that feel forced now that we know the characters. Lo and behold, the story improves...
     
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  4. Porcupine
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    Porcupine Contributing Member

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    Has this sort of thing happened to me? Oh yes. How have I dealt with it? In different ways.

    Sometimes, the new storyline just makes much more sense and is much more fun. I believe the character taking over the story is a good thing, it means you're really inside your character and that your character does things based on its situation and mindset and not only your will as the writer. A character "alive" like that is both more fun to read and to write than one that feels as if it's always on a leash and saying only the lines it's supposed to say.

    Sometimes, on the other hand, it has really messed things up and I have had a lot of trouble getting my storyline back together again. Timeline-wise especially it's awful, if something only makes sense if it happens at a certain point in time, but at that point in time the characters are supposed to be in an entirely different location. Frustration!
     
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  5. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Just make sure you keep the psychological plausibility of your characters intact. So you planned your MC falls in love with the irresistable Annie, but then your MC sleeps with Lauren. You didn't plan that, but you have to take into account how this romance affects the MC.

    No one's completely irresistable, in fact, the failure to resist lays on the MC there; it's not Annie's "fault", she just has something that causes your MC to fail to resist her even if he had feelings for Lauren.

    Also, Annie will probably not feel too positively about your MC screwing Lauren. Even worse, she might sympathize with Lauren, considering your MC a total dick for potentially hurting the poor girl -- she might consider your MC fickle, one of those annoying individuals who don't know what they want, fearing that she herself will be the next in line to be hurt when the next annie enters the picture.

    Have fun playing around with all the interesting possibilities you have, but remember to keep them plausible on the psychological level even though you are their god. At least that's what I'd try to do.
     
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  6. ddavidv
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    ddavidv Contributing Member

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    Thank you for the thoughtful responses.

    More has happened since that time. Oddly, Lauren (in a necessary plot occurrence) has a discussion with the MC about some of his beliefs, which do not coincide with hers. These are deeply held beliefs (what the plot is really about) and she can't accept MC's view as-is. So, she essentially breaks up with him, though leaves the door cracked. Frankly, I had imagined the opposite would happen: MC would be the one breaking up with her (he has a track record of ending relationships, another plot necessity). Really, Lauren has fought to be a stronger character than I imagined her. Good for her! :p

    MC is about to meet Annie for the first time (Annie and Lauren do not know each other, nor may they ever have reason to...I'll let that go where it wants). Annie comes with some well concealed baggage that is only hinted at through most of their relationship. She will be disinterested in the slightly fawning MC, and has a secret weapon to repel him: she wears a wedding ring, but has never been married. She does this so she won't constantly be hit on by men (most men find her provocative, but for reasons different than MC). This little 'tool' will cause angst for MC and eventually a problem for Annie as she realizes MC is actually someone she could fall for. When all of this starts to hit the fan, then perhaps Lauren will re-enter the picture, though as an annoyance or a threat remains to be seen.

    When I set out to tell this story it was to be about a recently broken-up guy who meets a girl who puts him in contact with an old man who takes him to a place where he comes to terms with his past. Now, I've got a love triangle mixed in with father issues, religious issues, reactions to death...it's a smorgasboard I never anticipated. And it's so much fun I can't wait to get home every day to write more of it. :D
     
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