1. electro magician
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    electro magician Member

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    Character Suprises

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by electro magician, Jul 18, 2007.

    Have you ever had a moment when you're writing along, following your idea or crayon scribbled napkins, and then your character says something or does something that take you by surprise?
     
  2. Genious in Orange
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    Genious in Orange New Member

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    Oh yes, multiple times. Such as the time I was writing about a doctor being questioned in his abilities and qualifications when I randomly typed him saying, "I'm not, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn last night." That might be the worst thing I've ever done.

    Just below that was the time the same doctor said, "I've amputated limbs and removed inner organs! ...Though most of my patients were already dead, does that count?"

    Of course, I'm a firm believer that characters should be allowed to adlib. Its when they start jumping infrot of bullets and spontaneously quitting jobs and such I find the problem. =]]
     
  3. Crazy Ivan
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    Crazy Ivan Contributing Member

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    Um...no. You see, characters are fictional. They are created by you and controlled by you, and thus anything the characters do is done by you. Unless you have a large-named disease that requires some form of medication, people tend to know what they are thinking. So no, my characters don't surprise me.

    But have I ever thought of a devilishly clever plot twist and wondered where the inspiration came from? Why yes, multiple times. I love that feeling.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Actually, I have heard other authors talk about this. After a while, the characters develop to the point they are almost real to the author. Not in a creepy way, but such that the author can predict how the character would react to a given situation. It may not always be what the author intended, but rather than force the character to conform, it is better to follow that instinct and let the story take its natural course.

    I think, although I'm not sure, that Sue Grafton has say something along these lines about her character, Kinsey Milhone.
     
  5. RomanticRose
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    RomanticRose Active Member

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    It happens to me all the time. I have a 15 page character worksheet that I have on all my main characters, but even then they still find ways to do something unexpected. It's a risk you take with well-developed fictional people.
     
  6. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    The progression of my characters frequently surprises me. In particular, one who I intended to be a minor character interested me so much that he became one of the main characters, and was partly responsible for one book growing to a trilogy.

    And on the flipside, the progression of my characters has ruined a lot of good stories (thought technically I suppose it's my fault). I'll reach a point in the plot, where a character can't do what I want them to, because they have progressed through the story so much that it's no longer in their nature. Sometimes I go back and try again, others I adapt the plot around the new character traits, and sometimes I just give up :p
     
  7. Domoviye
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    Domoviye Contributing Member

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    I've had it happen at least once that I recall. It turned out to be a huge turning point in the story.
    I had a little kid, the main character, attempt to beat an imaginary monster to death. He was perfectly justified to do it, and as I read it over it fit perfectly. But up to that point he had been afraid of it, relying mostly on bluster to get it to go away.
    But the monster pushed him too far and he snapped.
    Until I was actually writing down the words I didn't know what was going to happen.
     
  8. mypensmysoul
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    mypensmysoul Member

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    Quite often this happens to me. However, I agree with Ivan, that characters are fictional, and therefore they themselves dont suprise me, but its more that I suprise myself in the fact that I thought that without knowing that I was thinking that. (Then when I reread my work I think to myself, "...Huh? Did I come up with that?"

    Hehe. :p
     
  9. thethird_ismine
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    thethird_ismine New Member

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    It's so creepy when it happens. xD
     
  10. Funny Bunny
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    Funny Bunny Contributing Member

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    While I am in the rough draft stage I let my imagination go when it comes to the characters. They have done some surprising unplanned things. I think it is more a condition of being an opportunistic writer. I use what is around me. Sometimes the characters pick up something in the room, or stop paying attention or something in keeping with their personalities.
     
  11. Kiza
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    Kiza Member

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    It happened to me just today. Theres this character in my recent story, who's a bit well stupid and coward-like. Yet, suddenly I surprise myself as he faces down one of the creators of the universe in my story!
    Strange things are afoot...
     
  12. Damian_Rucci
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    Damian_Rucci Member

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    I have actually begun to work on a story that has been in the works and though stages for years, so I have the characters almost fully planned out. But as I write, the characters sometimes evolve and change, it surprises me
     
  13. DavidGil
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    DavidGil Senior Member

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    I kinda don't do any planning with my characters. Everything just starts from a image of them I have so I allow them to create their own personalities. (if that makes sense) I don't define the paths they take or anything.

    Oh and Ivan, there's one famous instance of a writer not being in control:

    You know of Strider in Lotr?

    When he first appeared, Tolkien had no idea who the ruffian was or how the hobbits would react, and sort of paniced. Or so I've heard anyways.

    Edit: But I understand what you mean I think. That you do have overall control over things.
     
  14. Scavenger
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    Scavenger Senior Member

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    I don't think I've ever had that happen to me. It actually confuses me somewhat when other people talk about their characters running away with them, because I've never quite understood how that can happen. I understand beign caught up in the moment and writing like mad, and thus coming up with some scenes you perhaps hadn't originally planned, but they are still your characters, and you're still the one typing, so how exactly do they develop minds of their own?

    Maybe while you're still developing them...

    Now I'm trying to think of how that could happen. I've had trouble bringin characters back or chanigng their moods in the middle of a scene before, or bringing them off a topic and moving on...but, I'm not sure that's quite the same thing. Mostly I view that more as my ineptitude as a writer instead of their particular rebelliousness...
     
  15. TheFedoraPirate
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    TheFedoraPirate Contributing Member

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    This always happens to me, it's pretty much how I write.
     
  16. DavidGil
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    DavidGil Senior Member

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    Well... I think what it comes down to is that you do have a general idea where you want to take them but they kinda take on a life of their own as you write as mentioned. That and if you push them into a situation, you don't panic because they would act differently than how they'd react and go back changing things. So they shape what happens basically without it being planned.

    Take the Strider example I used:

    He wasn't expected by Tolkien but he ended up taking a pivotal role in the story, even if the destruction of the ring was the main part. (though some would argue like me, the story is more about the world. I didn't like it due to that with the nature of the description and such.)

    I think to put it in simpler terms and I do ramble:

    It's basically a case of not forcing your characters down a path you chose and I guess that also in turn, applies to scenes. You basically don't force anything, you go with what feels natural at that point of time. Hope it makes sense.
     
  17. ACreativeMess
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    ACreativeMess New Member

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    It happens to me all of the time. I know that I am the writer, but my characters are real in the 'imaginary friend' sense. I can't write without letting my characters live and breathe on their own. For instance, I was writing a scene between two of my characters. They were driving to a lake party and the guy decided that it would be funny to tell the girl that they were lost. Everything was going well until the girl freaked out and went on a random tangent about how - and I quote - "they [cannibals] are going to cut off our fingers and eat them with sweet and sour sauce. My boobs are going to be turned into jello molds and served with whip cream!" Yeah, it was completely not planned on my part and it worked really well.

    So, I believe that all characters need to be given their space to just be themselves. If we control their every move - in my opinion - the writing is stiff and breathes no life. To me, writing is boring if the characters can't make asses out of themselves at random.
     
  18. Karpi
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    Karpi Member

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    I used to have my entire story planned out, for years.
    But within my smaller works, there was this minor character whom everyone liked and grew into my 'signiture character'.

    Of course i had to add him into my main story. But it caused character development as early as chapter 2. I eventually dropped the whole story line and just go off what i think my people would do.

    One, the arrogant 17 year old news reporter who is often a staple character in my other stories, takes a totally different path than what i had thought. She becomes more of a comic relief as the story progresses. Im usually against wasting someone like that, but it meshes with the story nicely.
     
  19. HeinleinFan
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    HeinleinFan Banned

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    A surprise for me was when I was working out some plot details with a friend of mine and he pointed out that my main character, if placed in the Harry Potter universe, would definitely be a Slytherin. It shocked me because I thought of him as a good character - well, he is, just ambitious as all get out - and would never have intentionally created a Slytherin-esque protagonist.

    Some of my favorite quotes from that world:

    Berendon: Wait, so I might be able to use Death magic, even though I don't have the ... the inclination?
    Os (nodding): The genes, yes.
    Berendon (with expression of glee on his face): No one's ever done that before. I'll be a legend - a hero! I'll be able to do everything Sawl [a local legend, like Merlin] never could! And when I'm really old, I'll be able to hear the bards sing about me, and they -
    Os: You aren't going to grow old.
    Berendon: - will intro .... what?!?
    Os: (More quietly) The curse is fatal, Berendon. You might live into your thirties, if you take every precaution. Perhaps. I've never seen or heard of this before. I don't know what will happen.

    Good times, good times...
     
  20. Lily
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    Lily Member

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    Hmm, this issue reminds me of the saying, "A novel writes itself." This sort of thing happens to me all the time. When I write, I get into the 'mode' or 'other place', as I call it. When I'm there, there's no telling what may happen in the story! Sometimes my main character says or does something so surprising to me that I laugh out loud. Or sometimes, unexpected events occur that change that path I had originally kept in mind. Editing is used for fixing these things when we are not in story mode. But most of the time, I keep everything I use because truly - a novel writes itself - a story really has it's own personality - and we may think we're in control, but when you think about it how is this passion to write, these places we see, these stories we tell, did we ever really have a choice in choosing to be a writer or not? We go crazy if we don't try and express ourselves in this way.
     
  21. Karpi
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    Karpi Member

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    i get bored with my planned storylines after about chapter 4
     
  22. Milamber
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    Milamber Member

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    I read this book "On Writing" by Stephen King and he talked a lot about this. he also said that he planned none of his books, which freeked me out a bit because my current book is already worked out from start to finish in my head.
    But i have to say that it is all pretty lose, the general plot is there, but there is also a whole lot of space for my characters to evolve. in one instance i knew exactly what the main character had to do and it was going to be a long journey etc, and somehow i just realised that he wouldnt realy like the idea. so although it would put the story behind i had to admit defeat and let him go off and do his own thing, and let him come back when he wanted to. it would be a good sidestory to fill in his personality and if i had forced him to do what i wanted him to do, (so that the story would run smothly, without unpredicatables which could realy stuff up the whole plot) then he would be a fake, not living up to his own character.
    I try to avoide forcing any of the characters too much...
     
  23. Lily
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    Lily Member

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    It's okay to have your book planned out - J.K. Rowling always had all her books planned out - that is how she could pull out different plots and subplots throughout her series. Don't judge your own style compared to another writer's, everyone has their own style and way of doing things - if not, things wouldn't be nearly as interesting.
     

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