Saturday, February 7, 2009

Stubborn Characters

While working on a novel, have you ever had your characters insist your story take certain turns or that you must bow to their desires and needs? Yeah I know. I DO know they're not real, but they often feel very real, and I swear my characters have demanded directions and traits that I never anticpated or wanted to use in the story. These loud, bossy creations really seem to exist on another plane or in a different dimension and are aiming to break into this one. That's a definite mark of good character development I suppose.

In my book Kings & Queens, there's a town rumor about a girl disappearing. Originally, I had put it in merely to add some texture and history to Cedar Creek, the main setting for my story, and give some pre-existing fear of the woods. Children avoid it. When I got into the thick of my story, two of my characters wanted me to make them responsible for what happened to the girl. I never intended on making that a bigger part of my story, but they practically shoved me into affixing the urban legend to them. Maybe they thought it would make them look cooler or something. I don't know. So I did as they asked and my work became stronger, adding one more mystery for readers to uncover.

Then in my sequel, Sapphire Reign, my main character has a little brother, who's ten. For some reason, he wanted to be called Brighton. Sorry if that's your name, but I'm not a fan of it. It's ALL British. No way around it. It's very stuffy and pretentious. My MC is Majesty and her sister is Skye and the name "Brighton" doesn't really fit with them. A name like Adonis or something more exotic would match better. Well, maybe not Adonis, but you know what I mean. I tried to brainstorm and come up with another more suitable name to complete the set, but I could not ditch the name Brighton. That's who he wanted to be. Not Bryton or Bryten. Brighton. It fit him. He liked it. End of story. Sure. Who am I but the lowly author, subject to characters' demands.

So, I thought, well maybe that name has some great meaning I'm unaware of, like strong defender or something. Nope. It just means a Brit or a place in Britain. I think he likes the bright part of it, as he aims to be an encourager. And he's brilliant, hence bright. Maybe he just has a quirky sense of humor or a dash of conceit.

I know every writer sees and feels their character steering their work, but do your characters ever take control of your story and make demands you cannot ignore or omit? That stubborn insistence is annoying, but those dimension busters are usually dead on right. So I tend to cave and give in.

~ Signing off and sending out cyber hugs.

No comments:

Post a Comment