calendula_witch (calendula_witch) wrote,

With a Life of Their Own

I was writing an email to klwilliams a little bit ago about (among other things) today's writing, describing how one of my main characters was just not behaving. So, sorry Karen, if you're reading this, you have to read the same thing twice. :-)

The outline calls for this character to get angry at another major character at this point. He's done some crappy things, disappointed her, let her down; she should be angry. In fact she needs to be angry and kick him out, so he can go and [blah blah more plot follows]. So, I start the scene; he shows up, acts sheepish; I try to write her being angry... She won't get angry. She's confused, she's hurt, she asks questions... she's just not getting mad. Everything he's saying is pushing her in a different direction.

Well... everything he's saying is true to his character. And how she's reacting is true to hers. She's a sweetheart, a pushover; she's the character who takes care of everyone and cleans up all the messes. But dammit! She can't do this! If he doesn't go and [etc etc], then the whole ending falls apart.

Finally, I stopped and listened to them. They know who they are; they know what they're doing. I thought about it a bit, and finally figured out that they can go on as they are, I can adjust the outline; he can leave anyway and do the things the book needs, and the reason he now leaves is going to make even more sense, I think. 

You don't know the characters when you write the outline. I mean, you sort of do; you invent them, after all. But they're a paragraph from your imagination at that point. Now they are 400 pages of action and thoughts and crappy decisions and love and drama and *living*. They are alive and real, and they don't like being pushed around any better than the rest of us do.


In other news: I love my friends, and I love reading my friends' books. I'm so lucky that my friends write such fantastic books.

But... sometimes, perhaps, I should give more thought to the order in which I read books. I just finished maryrobinette's truly delightful and riveting Shades of Milk and Honey, whereupon I dove right into Mira Grant's (aka seanan_mcguire)'s fascinating, razor-sharp Feed. The horrible screeching sound you hear is the gears grinding in my brain, as I adjust to the nearly-annihilatingly-total change in tone, setting, and subject matter. :-)

Five chapters in; I think I'm okay now. But, wow.
Tags: friends, hobgoblin, process, reading

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