Monday, May 10, 2010

Characters: Keep on Surprising Me

When I wrote chapter 1 for my WIP, Dropping Like Flies, I was following inspiration and just spit those 1500 words out. I liked the thing, but it sat for months without me giving it much thought as I finished Sapphire Reign and jumped into an agent hunt.
Now that I'm picking it up again, I realize my character was not at all who I thought she was. I thought she was a peppy girl, left broken by abusers and now had to grapple to cope and move on. Nope. Wrong.

She's not that girl. She's jaded and angry, pissed really, even vowing to hurt those who've hurt her. Due to bottled-up pain and turmoil, she cusses like a trucker and blows my aim for a profanity-free work right out the window. She's cool one minute, furious the next. She's both withdrawn and outspoken. Oh, what. You didn't think such an oxymoron was possible? Neither did I! She's seriously a walking contradiction.

It's so weird how I had one idea and she came out with fists flying and a completely different agenda and way of doing things. She ransacked my perceptions and said, "Um, no. THIS is me. Don't like it? Too bad. Write some other story then! This is mine." She wanted a new name, so I gave. She hated her appearance, so she took it upon herself to change her look, adding magenta streaks to her hair. She sounds just like a real teenager, so I guess that's a good thing.

But wow. How did my creation get so far away from me? How does that happen? She's not real. I invented her. So, how can she shock me? How can she be so ready to own and distort the pages I'd planned when I didn't even do a character sketch? She's emerging however the hell she wants as I'm lending ink to her story. And after writing chapter 2, I had to change chapter 1 to sound like the real her.

Though she bounces from extreme to extreme and may do or think things that make her lean more anti-hero at times, her thread of decency and pain, I think, is what will make readers connect with her. She's brutally honest, real and raw. With her life in complete turmoil, with crazy things happening, she has no one to talk to, nowhere to turn, so the story she's relaying is her only outlet.

My characters always surprise me, no matter how well I think I know them. I'm only three chapters in, and I can't see where this girl takes me. I love the unexpected.

Do your character surprise you? Or am I the only freak with a pen?

~ Signing off and sending out cyber hugs.


  1. It's a good thing when characters take on a life of their own. It keeps the ideas flowing and the writing fresh. Every so often though, we get dragged along on a totally unexpected ride. I got that with the feisty female lead in my last novel. 'Course it was a lot of fun writing her story. :)

  2. It is pretty fun and strange how that happens, how something YOU create can go so off the rails. I love it!

  3. Yep, they do. All the time.

    Naomi in my current one especially. Before I thought she was a musician like her mother but she definitely told me NO, I got that wrong. She's an artist, how could I have missed that?

    She's also a great deal more of a spitfire than I'd originally planned :P A little on the immature side too.

  4. I love that. I can't wait to read your book. It sounds awesome.