1. Milady
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    Milady Contributing Member

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    Have your characters ever surprised you?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Milady, Jun 28, 2008.

    I've heard of writers whose characters simply refused to do things, or went on their own path, or any odd number of things. But I never believed it happened that literally. And it couldn't happen to me, could it, when my characters had barely made their screen debut?

    But recently I read a book similar to the story I've been developing, and, crushed, I decided to throw away all my work and start on something fresh. Then my characters took over. Either that or I went crazy. Maybe it's a mix of the two. At any rate, I heard distinctly one of them tell me No, you've got to write us! You Promised!, and before I knew it I was arguing with figments of my imagination.

    They won out. I'm going to write their story anyway, even if it's been done.



    So, my point is... have your characters ever been real enough to you to do something like this? Have they ever surprised you, either by their insubordination or their survival instinct? ...have you ever gone as crazy as I am?
     
  2. Iulia
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    Iulia New Member

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    Oh yes. My characters often do things I don't even want them to, and I find I write bet when I simply let the story flow without holding to tightly to things. You're not crazy, in fact, you're quite sane, for a writer, I think.
     
  3. Klee
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    Klee Contributing Member

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    Lol! Yes! Normally I think up my character's whole personality before writing them in, and sometimes they act exactly according to that personality! And then it's hard to move the plot the way I planned, but I guess they end up happier with their own story.
     
  4. Lucy E.
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    Lucy E. Contributing Member

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    Absolutely. All the time. I won't deny that I'm crazy, but I think all writers have to be a little crazy to make any sense. Lol!
    One of my characters was supposed to die. But she wasn't having it. She's still alive and kicking. :)
     
  5. LibbyAnn
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    LibbyAnn Contributing Member

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    Yes. All.the.time. Last night, one of my MC's did something totally out of character for him. And it wasn't until after he'd already done it that I realized WHY he did it. And then it made total sense and opened up a whole new door for the story.

    Hi, my name is Libby, and I'm a little bit crazy! ;)
     
  6. Beth
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    Beth Member

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    Absolutely... my MC above all can surprise me a lot.. I constantly work on making him a good guy, but he insists on acting like a complete jerk. ^^
     
  7. WAN73D
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    WAN73D Member

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    You know you've created a quality character when he, she, or it speaks for themselves. Otherwise, it's just your words in their fictional mouths, which usually turns out feeling completely unauthentic.
     
  8. Shadow Dragon
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    Shadow Dragon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes, it happens to me too. I think its best to just let your characters write the story. It usually breaks up the flow of the story if a writer tries to force their character to do something.
     
  9. Kirby Tails
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    Kirby Tails Member

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    In my old story, I had a character named Edward, who, though he turned out as I intended, sort of also took on his own personality. Of course, he was pretty much a huge asshole...but his own personality kind of ended up changing my whole ending. :p
     
  10. BillyxRansom
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    BillyxRansom Active Member

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    My main character's father won't tell me how he dies. But he has to die.
    My problem is that, my characters don't communicate with me. So I don't know what happens to them, or where they have to go, or what they do. I only remotely know about three of my characters, and I plan on having a lot of characters in this. So someone needs to start speaking up soon before I GO CRAZY!!!



    *ahem*

    *blink*
     
  11. Kirby Tails
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    Kirby Tails Member

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    ...I also ended up creating this really deep connection between a mother and daughter in my story, stronger than I had previously imagined. Actually, kind of made things easier for me. :p
     
  12. BillyxRansom
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    BillyxRansom Active Member

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    ^ This needs to happen for my MC and his father. Something serious, something fierce.
     
  13. WAN73D
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    WAN73D Member

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    There are ways to overcome these problems. Exercises, I guess you'd call them. The easiest one that I can think of for your particular situation is a simple game of 20 questions. I'm sure you can find lists of questions on google or something, but I think it would be best if you made your own based on the level of realism within your story. Some of your questions should be about things such as physical traits, sexual preferences, and family background, but the questions that will reveal the most to you should be situationals.

    Here's a base formula for a few of those kind of questions:

    "If a man said X to your character, how would he/she/it respond?"
    "If X happened to your character, how would he/she/it react?"
     
  14. zorell
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    zorell Contributing Member

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    That's how I wrote Meeting Someone New, i couldn't get KJ and Dale out of my head, and now I'm having a hard time writing the follow up because I think they're mad that I broke them up, but I had no choice.
     
  15. Cougar1002
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    Cougar1002 New Member

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    I've had characters and plot go off in unexpected directions in short stories--I think a lot of it is our subconscious helping us out. :)
     
  16. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 Contributing Member

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    I don't really feel that I'm writing what my characters will/should do. I just feel like they're doing things, and, being the passive observer, I'm writing down my observations. In short, I'm not in charge, I'm just watching. :)

    They're always surprising me. I don't really have to make them do anything, they do it on their own. One can perhaps argue it's just my unconscious commanding all this, but who really knows?
     
  17. SonnehLee
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    SonnehLee Contributing Member Contributor

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    One of my characters told me he was gay, so then I had to go back and change things. It was very interesting.
     
  18. Marloy
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    Marloy Contributing Member

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    My characters don't necessarily surprise me in terms of it all ending in them getting unwritten. My current novel has been delayed after about three failed attempts for a year now and they've been almost screeching in my head to get written. When I finally start again, they seem to be in a state of saying that they don't want to start the novel and I end up writing little tidbits that may or may never be in the actual story, and will not be brought up until halfway through.

    It seems,though that they know what they are doing with it, I should say, because with each of these tidbits I write and/or save, I get closer to their personalities, and it is really helping the writing to flow smoother (and will when I get there). I too have heard of other cases like these, many, for example, where writers say that they would try to incorporate a character in a scene, and the characters will refuse to do it. So yeah, I don't think it's really crazy (that, or we're all insane). :D
     
  19. edens garden
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    edens garden Senior Member

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    Stephen King especially. He has gone on record multiple times when a novel has come out and mentioned that the version you are reading is entirely different from the one he planned out in his head. It wasn't his fault, the characters made him do it.
     
  20. daemon➂
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    daemon➂ Member

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    Yeah, I totally agree with you. I don't like a lot of modern fiction, and for the longest time I couldn't figure out why. Then I realized it was because in most modern fiction, the authors try to let the plot develop the characters instead of letting the characters develop the plot. It's a lot more realistic, I think, when the characters develop the plot.
     
  21. zorell
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    zorell Contributing Member

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    now that I think about it, my favorite surprise came from my novel Revelations. Detective Aubramier told me he had twin sons. How was I spposed to know one was gay and the other would fall for my pregnat mc, and then decide to drop a hundred pounds?
     
  22. Small World
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    Small World New Member

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    Close to what you are saying but no... Its more of what I learn of them as we go along making the story
    I'd say thats amazing and I would get no response... they have their own world and I'm just observing them a writing down what happens
    Its more one sided like that
     
  23. apothecaryrose
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    apothecaryrose Member

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    I have a rough idea for things that I want to happen in my story that I'm writing but if they characters don't seem to be going for it then I change it to what they seem to want. It helps to have something in mind, but it helps to be flexible.

    For example, my female main character wasn't going to show up until probably the second or third chapter by my plans. But she kept pestering me with ideas for the first chapter. So there she is.

    My male main character is being quiet though... but then that's him. He's not much of a talker. I also think he's nervous about what is in store for him.
     
  24. Alex_Hartman
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    Alex_Hartman Contributing Member

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    Yeah. I've been working with my main character for a long time, I think I've changed her friends every time I change her story too. For the past two years I've written a few versions of this story, none of them 100% done, but close enough. I've gotten to the point where I've over thought everything and now I have to take a break.

    It's only a break because if I stopped, my MC would kill me. She won't leave me alone. And I don't think you've gone crazy, unless you've started imagining you're character talking to you non-stop and helping you with things outside of writing. (Nim's Island =D)
     
  25. Ore-Sama
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    Ore-Sama Senior Member

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    Oh yes, quite. I had the story 80% thought out in my head as I sat down and typed, however suddenly things started happning that wer never meant to happen.

    Characters developed traits they didn't orginally have, started doing things that were not meant to be part of the original plot, developed feelings for other characters they weren't supposed to have, etc.

    At first I thought it was bad writing on my part, but then I looked it over and realized it actually fleshed out the characters far more and made the plot and the world around much more expansive.
     

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