Characters Don’t Listen to Us

Snippets of an Author’s Life: Post 7

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So many authors have said it: their characters start doing what they want, deviating from the original plan.

“Hey, that’s not the conflict I had in mind for you!”

As outside observers, we see the big picture and design the layout, the characters’ paths, the blueprint of the story so it all works. And then they simply do not listen.

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Like all of us flawed humans, three-dimensional characters are about as real as we are, with their own spheres of experience, their own baggage, and their own drives (for better or for worse). Just as you may not have listened to well intentioned advice on how to live your life, so too our characters go off to live theirs, merrily writing their own events if the ones you came up with didn’t resonate with them.

“Why are you still holding a grudge against the protagonist? You were supposed to get over it and be the good best friend.”

We may also see the path to their doom and ache to stop them, or know the (sometimes) simple solution to their problem, but they brush us off and handle the situation in their own way.

“Why are you leaving the band? Do you realize what kind of a mess this creates? I’ll have to change the ending.”

So let them have their fun. They may give you a good story. True, you’ll have to show a little more patience and work harder to make things right between them and you, but sometimes a bit of freedom and natural consequence are a good thing. (Evil smile.)

About Eva Blaskovic

I am a multi-genre author of literary fiction and fantasy, and writer of non-fiction articles on parenting, writing, education, health, and travel. My background encompasses both the sciences and the arts. I teach at a specialized clinic for learning difficulties and mentor young authors. In addition to writing and teaching, my passions are weather, Indian food, gardening, and music. I have played eight musical instruments and spent many years immersed in taekwondo and karate. In my youth, I was an avid canoeist. I was born in Prague, Czech Republic, grew up in Ontario, Canada, and moved to Alberta in 1988, where I raised four children.
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4 Responses to Characters Don’t Listen to Us

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