Monday, February 14, 2011

Do the Characters dictate the story?

Time for some more deep thoughts on writing. I have been struggling lately because the story I had been so gung ho on has started to cause me problems. I have been stuck on a certain plot point that I just couldn't figure out how to over come. The kicker is, it isn't until the end of the book that my idea I had would be implemented, but since I'm in the middle working toward the end, I am afraid to work on it since I "might" not know what to do once I get there.

I had an idea the other day that will help me in my progress toward the end. Wanna know what that fantastic idea is?

I am going to write and see where it leads me. I tried that the other night and the 2 main characters did something I wasn't expecting, but loved. So I figured if I just let them get to the end, where I have a general idea where it needs to lead, I'll let them help me know what comes next and how they will solve the problem I throw at them. I know these characters well enough that when I throw that end at them, they'll handle it very well. Probably even better than I could.

Now I've heard that some people think letting your characters control where your story goes is the sign of a bad writer, but for me, I don't think so. I'm still ulitmately in charge, but I'm allowing some freedom to come since that will help me get past this stuck portion that has slowed me down for the last few months.

I'll let you know how it goes, but I would like your opinion on whether letting the characters have a say in the way your story progresses is good, bad or in between writing.


  1. I think it's a skill of a GREAT writer to let the characters lead them, because if a writer is rigidly forcing the story into a framework they think they want, it doesn't develop naturally. You are still in control, you created the characters and the circumstances that opened up the possibility to wherever your characters are taking you. I think it's good stuff...

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  3. I look at it realistically. "The characters" are really you, right? So if "the characters" are leading your story somewhere, YOU are really doing it yourself--and subconsciously. You are writing what you would naturally enjoy to hear from a story. Trust your subconscious desires because that's what you inherently think will make a good story. If you can't trust what you believe, you're up a river without a paddle.

    That being said, just make sure you have a destination constantly in mind. Although writing with no destination can be a good exercise, it's usually not something other people like to read (with the exception of Freudian critics, perhaps).

    Forget "the characters" talk. Trust yourself.