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August 19, 2011


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This post is so very true. I've come across this many times as a writer. Actually, a few times I've argued with my characters - pleading - for them to go in a certain direction when they stubbornly seem to only dig their feet in further, stiffling any of my ideas for their future. Often times, it feels bleak. Like everything I had planned had just been thrown out the window. An entire chapter tossed because maybe one or two made-up people disagreed with me. But you know what? That's when the real story begins, the one that even the author didn't see coming.
And maybe that's when you know you're a true writer, because you don't tell your story - but your character(s) story.

Donna Cummings

Britt, I've been there too, pleading with the characters like a frustrated mom, so sure I know what they should be doing with their lives! LOL But you're so right about that's when the real story begins--I actually love when that happens, because I love the surprises and learning a new aspect of this character I thought I knew all about.

I love your last line too. :) That really may be the mark of a true writer.


go tell it on the mountain, sister! in real life, the moment you try to alter someone’s behavior to conform to your expectations you end up with two seriously unhappy people. so why do we think it’s okay to do this in our “other” real life? I think it may have to do with some teeny-tiny control issues. we are the ultimate character in any story we write, the voice from on-high that gets to decide the fate of those involved, and there’s a temptation to strut your literary stuff around like a deity. but if you try calling all the shots at play, at work, and/or in bed, you’ll quickly find yourself playing/working/playing alone. so it’s important to remember to loosen up. relax. let things come as they may. it’s all about striking that happy balance. make sure you keep a good grip, but be careful not to squeeze too tight – you might end up writing for yourself.
thanks for the reminder that we shouldn’t be going it alone; because one is the loneliest number, in life and on the page. ;)

Donna Cummings

Cara, what a great point -- not that I know of anyone who has tried to change somebody's behavior in real life. *cough*

Yes, being the all-powerful deity of our story world is hard to resist, but you make a powerful argument for why it needs to be a partnership. And I like your points about writing too. :)

Kari Marie

What a great post and so true. I've discovered that when I'm having the most difficulty with a scene it's because I didn't realize how out of sync it was with a particular character!

Donna Cummings

Kari Marie, thanks so much. I've been learning that about being out of sync with a character. I need to listen to them more. LOL They kinda know what they're doing!


As someone who hates cabbage, especially when soggy and over cooked, I can sympathise with this!

Not sure I agree with all the 'allowing the character to be in control' stuff. Seems to me that a lover needs to start slowly. To tease, entice, woo, and build slowly to a climax. Letting the hero loose may finish the book in a few pages! With multiple characters all having their own way you are likely to write a book about anarchy or chaos.

No Donna. Don't listen to these siren voices. You as author are in control. Treat your errant characters as naughty children. Provide incentives and prizes if it helps, but INSIST that they do it your way!

I want to read YOUR book, not some random cacophony of conflicting interests. Beauty lies with symmetry. Nature is the perfect organiser and master. Just look at the petals on any flower. Consider your book as a growing plant or flower and take inspiration from mother nature.

AND no cabbage or sprouts please!

Fascinating blog. *smile*

Donna Cummings

Q, I don't mind cabbage on occasion, but there's something about all that cabbage-y taste being compressed into the little miniature versions that does me in. LOL

I like your "lover" comparison, and I only WISH it applied to my characters. LOL They are very strong-minded (big surprise!), so there can be some very interesting discussions amongst us at times. I like to think I'm in control -- a sort of parent or manager that corrals them all towards the exit, even if they want to stop and look at other things along the way. LOL

I hope when you read my stories the characters will convince you that I was in charge of their destiny. :) Or at least you'll know it was my goal!

Liz Fichera

There's something to be said for having a "sit-down" with your character before you get to writing your story; however, sometimes the characters can reveal more of themselves to you as you write the story. It's a conundrum.

Donna Cummings

Liz, ain't that the truth? LOL I learn more about my characters as I write the story, but then I like to have a sitdown with them when I can't figure out why they got quiet. They keep us hopping, don't they? :)

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