WHAT TO DO WHEN YOUR CHARACTER TAKES A LEFT TURN

“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.” 
― Robert Frost

I was happily working on the end of my current WIP, not the final scene, but very, very close, when out of the blue, my character turned left when she should have turned right. I had the scene all planned. A perfect resolution was in sight, she just had to reach out and take it. But she didn’t, and no one was more surprised than me. What are you thinking? I wanted to give Lily a shake. We are in sight of the final chapter when she decides to be difficult and refuse to buy in to the obviously perfection solution. Now where is the end going to be? What is the end going to be?

Lily has decided that she has a little more thinking to do before THE END. And, as it turns out, a little more growing. She has to come to the outcome completely on her own and for her own reasons. She can’t be swayed by the others. So close! I came so close to the end, but I have to admit Lily is right. Don’t you just hate that? When you characters start writing the story without you?

Don’t get too discouraged. It’s my experience that the characters are almost always right. Once you know your characters inside and out, they will direct the show and lead you in the right direction.

I’ve decided Lily and I need to have a tête à tête about this scene that she just hijacked.

Here’s what I plan to ask her:

  • Why did you not tell follow our plan for this chapter?
  • What would you like to have happen next?
  • What are you not happy about so far?
  • What will you do if your father goes ahead with his plan?
  • How do you feel at the moment about the other characters; your father? Carson? Nonna?
  • What do you want more than anything right now? Has this changed since the beginning of the story?
  • What will you do if you get what you want? What is it worth to you?
  • What is it that your father doesn’t know about you?
  • What is it that Carson doesn’t know about you?

After writing out Lily’s answers to these questions, I think I’ll know how the story needs to progress and why. And I’ll know how the story ends. Has the ending changed or just taken a little detour?

It’s exciting when the characters begin taking over the story, although it can be a little scary. When that happens, try have a conversation with her, author to character.

 

Happy writing!

Published by Lois Donovan

Author of historical time travels, THE JOURNAL and WINDS OF L'ACADIE, Lois is in demand as a speaker/presenter at literary conferences and young writers' conferences and teachers conventions. Lois grew up primarily in Riverview, New Brunswick, but has called Calgary home for many years. Currently, Lois enjoys life in Calgary with her husband, daughter, son and daughter-in-law.

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