Friday, September 22, 2006

films vs books

Ever watched a good movie, only to cringe at some of the things done by the characters? I've sat there and thought "No! I would have done something much different!" The hero and heroine would/would not have done such-and-such, etc.

That's the beauty of writing my own stories. I can and do make my characters do/not do such-and-such! They go out and do things I want them to do. They say the right things, do the rights things...not necessarily the right thing in my eyes, but it's what I want them to do.

So what happens when they won't do as I want them to do? Some people tell me they're my characters, I can make them do whatever I want, but it's not that simple.

There I am, writing away, when suddenly I realize the characters aren't doing what I was planning. Somehwere along the way I lost control and the characters are running with the story. Their own way.

Does this sound nutty? Believe me, before I started writing, I would have thought so! But now I know how cunning characters can be, how devious, how they can be good little people doing what I want them to do, and as I immerse myself further and further into the story, I suddenly realize that my good little people have taken on a life of their own. The plot is suddenly not so straightforward, that shouldn't have happened, good gravy - did she really say that...and the best? Who the heck are you and where did you come from? How did another character get into my story?

This happens because as I write, I live my story. I see it all unfolding, I feel the emotions, I've even had a good blubber when writing a heart-wrenching scene, finished it at 6 in the morning because I couldn't stop writing I was so involved, wiped my eyes, hiccuped and said "Damn good scene!"


So writing, for me, is a bit of an adventure, because even though I have my basic plot outline, I know anything can happen along the way to change that plot a little. I always wonder what unplanned character is going to be created with just a few key strokes, and how my original charaters are going to react to the whole thing.

Reading is an adventure, but so is writing! And I love it...even though it does drive me up the wall sometimes LOL.

hoo roo for now!


Bernadette Gardner and Jennifer Colgan said...

I know exactly what you mean. I have a vision of a story when I start out and then oftentimes the characters take over and do what they want to do. If I try too hard to make them conform, they become cranky and their dialogue suffers, they begin to act like they're just reading lines to keep me [the director] happy. I tell them, "Come on, you can put more feeling into that!" and they sigh and do the scene over and still something is missing. I've fired a few characters. Sometimes I've scrapped stories all together and sent whole casts of characters to the unemployment line. And other times, if I think maybe they know a little more than I do, I let them have their way. Those are the stories that turn out the best, though I'm still sometimes dismayed that it wasn't what I set out to write.

MK Mancos/Kathleen Scott said...

This is so me. I know exactly what you mean about characters just showing up and adding something richer to the plot line...and then I'm shaking their hands and saying, "Thanks, for showing up." I try not to get too attached to my outlines. In my novel "Idolatry," the outline really looks very little how the novel ended up. But I think flexibility is important when writing. There are times I write blind. I don't really know anymore than a vague notion of how I want a scene to go and then as I write all those details seem to come together. Or I hash them out with my critique partner. Which definately happened with "Idolatry." For the most part I had no idea where I was going with it or how things would fall into place at the end...I had a very fuzzy idea. Through a series of brainstorming session we finally worked the plot out to my satisfaction. I'm finding the same sort of problems with my symboitic-vampire novel "Fangdango." Though I had the complete story arc completed it was designed for a comic book/serialization. When I decided to make it a novel I had to go back and start pulling threads that could span the entire novel and beef up the plot line. With a serial or comic book series you can afford to be a little more choppy than what you can get by in a novel. There are still a lot of plot points that need hammared out, but I'm gladly at chapter 16 and am moving right along. I should be finished with the rough by Thanksgiving.

Yes, I like to keep my options open when writing. Sometimes the juices flow and you come up with really wonderful situations and scenes you never anticipated before.


Cassandra Kane said...

I spent a month stalled on a WIP because of one paragraph. I was trying to force the story to go into the direction it was 'supposed' to go into and I was drawing a blank. When I finally mustered up the courage to delete that para, the story took off again cause the characters just did what they needed to do.

So yeah, it does drive me up the wall sometimes but I wouldn't want to be doing anything else *g*

Lynda K. Scott said...

Huh. And I thought I was the only one this happened to. Like Cassandra, I'll get stalled if a scene or paragraph or line of dialogue isn't quite what I envisioned. Or if a secondary character arrives who seems to want the spotlight all to himself or herself (which happens in almost all of my stories!) I promise them they'll get their own chance to shine and they grudgingly simmer down but I can see they're not happy.

Then the main characters get into a snit. I remind them they're the ones who'll have the HEA and great sex but they don't want to believe. So we have to compromise. And, damn it, they're so often right, it makes me wonder who's writing the story?

I suppose the answer is obvious LOL It isn't me.