Re: Does anyone else lose arguments with the characters in their novels?

#1
I've noticed a trend in my writing recently - I plotted my entire book out when I started it, I had very brief outlines for each chapter and knew what was going to happen, when and to whom.

I'm a fair way into it now (100+ pages) and I was having trouble writing one of the chapters, it took me several days and multiple trashed drafts before I realized that the characters weren't agreeing with what I had planned, it didn't seem what 'they' would do anymore... apparently the characters in my novel now have a mind of their own and it wasn't quite how I had first envisioned them ...

So my query is - who else finds their novel is now writing itself to some degree and they're just along for the ride?

Re: Does anyone else lose arguments with the characters in their novels?

#2
You're definitely not alone there.

It has happened to me. For the one novel on here that I've marked completed, one of the two main characters didn't even exist in my original draft. Then, after creating an initial version of her, she took on a mind of her own, demanded more presence and personality, put her foot down and dictated to me how she would act in the scenes I was writing. 

The male character trusted me to write him, and went with the flow. But she... she changed everything quite dramatically, multiple times. I wrote a bit of a post mortem afterwards, and looking back on it, the final draft resembles very little the initial one, and it is largely thanks to her. I've continued editing for about a year since marking it complete, though all offline, and she has continued to direct her own involvement.

I'm not yet encountering that in my other works, but they're all very early on.

Re: Does anyone else lose arguments with the characters in their novels?

#5
Lose arguments?

I suspect one of my characters consciously and actively sabotaged a major subplot of the novel. Like, complete derail to the point where it changed significant portions of the novel for multiple other major characters. I had to rewrite the ending because of her.

And the worst part is... I'm convinced she knew she was doing it, too. Like somehow she was aware of what I was planning and just decided 'No, I don't like that ending' and fix-fic'd the story from within to prevent it.

Re: Does anyone else lose arguments with the characters in their novels?

#7
 I think all writers are always collecting characters as we go along. Not just characters of course, we’re collecting EVERYTHING. Bits and pieces of story. An interesting dynamic between people. A theme. A great character back story. A cool occupation. The look of someone’s eyes. A burning ambition. Hundreds of thousands of bits of flotsam and jetsam that we stick in the back of our minds like the shelves full of buttons and ribbons and fabrics and threads and beads in a costumer’s shop.

— Alexandra Sokoloff, quote from Collecting Character

I think all these things, Alexandra mentions, come out to play when we write, and it takes on a life of its own. In our characters, how we write, describe, and create.

Simply put, how we imagine!

That said, look who I found while searching quotes on character creation.



IF, however, you want to write a character from the ground up, a character who is as real as any person living, yet wholly your own creation, then there are three aspects you need to know in depth: the physical, sociological and psychological.

— mooderino, quote from The Three Dimensions of Character

Mooderino is on RRL

I deserve a cookie.

Re: Does anyone else lose arguments with the characters in their novels?

#11
Definitely have had that experience. Even though I try to plot out my stories, I always find them changing as I write them. It seems many times the stories have a mind of their own and I'm just along for the ride. Somehow through, it seems to work and the story ends up being better than what I'd originally planned. Based on everyone else's comments, this just seems to be a natural part of the creative process. 

Re: Does anyone else lose arguments with the characters in their novels?

#12
Yes, and honestly the reason they won is because for them to behave as I originally planned would be out of character and thus worse writing overall. 
Either I had to change circumstances so they would take the planned course of action after all or let them go their way and see what it gave me to work with. 
Terry Pratchett often remarked that his characters would take on lives of their own and turn out very different from their original conception, I'm sure I could hunt down some other big name authors saying the same thing as well.
You're far from alone.

Re: Does anyone else lose arguments with the characters in their novels?

#13
Its a good thing having you character its own agenda separate to the plot. That means that it has its own motivations and will not always go with the plot, and sometimes require a lot of pushing for him to do what you want him to do. Its almost like its another person. Usually I use coercion to have my characters go with the program, or the threat of death. But soon it will grow old, and your character will have its own list of grievances, making it even harder to make it do what you want. 

But then again I guess its what I get making pragmatic characters. 

Re: Does anyone else lose arguments with the characters in their novels?

#14
It has only occurred to me in every story I have ever written. I have never ended a story as I had outlined it and planned it in my life.

In the completed novel in my sig, when I first wrote it as a ten thousand page short five years ago, the lead character chooses a name for her legend -disguise- I swear I did not see the pun in her name until she uses it so derisively against her target in the second to the last scene just as I am writing out the dialogue.
I had to sit back in awe, shaking my head, thinking - what a cheeky b!$(H!

Re: Does anyone else lose arguments with the characters in their novels?

#15
No, but that's, as I've explained this evening elsewhere already, because I work on my stories backwards. I start with the ending and then end up with characters that would be there. It's sort of like conceiving a story in media res. You know how some stuff starts with the big climax but doesn't show the WHOLE thing? Like, the hero looks up at the final boss after killing a thousand mooks and gets all determined to end his struggle, and then you flashback to two years earlier and the mooks he kills by the dozen are threats? Right, so do that, but think up the whole finale. Your hero defeats the bad guy (or not, your story), and he sees all his allies and stuff. Congrats, that's the main cast. Whatever he used to beat the final boss, that's your MacGuffin or super mode or what have you, if you want one.

From there, I just work in reverse on how they would end up in that situation. Because you know how it ends, the characters have already agreed to the ending, so they won't mess with it. In a sense, it makes me writing things in the past tense even more amusing. The story isn't unfolding before our eyes, the characters are telling it to me as they remember.