Monday, May 21, 2012

When A Character Goes In A Different Direction

Recently I've come to the conclusion that convincing a character to do what I, the writer, want him or her to do sometimes just doesn't work well.          

As my WiP began I had a plan, or at least I knew how it was going to end.  But soon after getting into the meat of the story I noticed that the story was veering off in a direction I hadn't anticipated and was far off course of its intended ending.  While my gut tells me that this is the right direction to go in, (even though it throws my initial outline out the window) I'm still...what's the word...anxious?  This is a story I have been working on for awhile and I had always thought I knew just what the ending would be. But after looking at it again and really focusing on writing and developing my main character (I had put this WiP aside for awhile and for this round of ROW80 have now come back to it) I see a different ending and in many ways, even a different main character-or at least a different personality.  The choices I thought she would make changed as I've built and developed the setting and the other characters around her.  Needless to say, it's been an interesting ride though now when I look at my new and improved outline, I am definitely liking what I am seeing.

Of course I always have the option of going back and revising who my character has become, but I have to admit that I am not sure that the original ending fits into the type of person she is now.  It's almost as if somewhere a long the way, a tug of war has occurred between the characterization and the plot.  While I started out with the basics of both, at some point the character has developed to a point where the plot has to change to fit who she has become.  Each scene, each conversation, has brought her closer and closer to this point and to go back and  rip apart the tapestry I've woven to fit into the original ending just doesn't feel 'right' at this point.  

What about you? Is there ever a time that you've struggled with the direction you intended to go in a WiP and where the writing is actually taking you?  Do you stick to your original plan or go where the story takes you?  


  1. My characters always tell me who they are, even if I insist they follow a certain personality :) I had to change the tone a bit in my second book, but you gotta listen to your characters...

  2. That's happened to me a number of times, and generally it makes a character and his or her storyline even stronger. My original plan for my first Russian historical novel (which I'd never planned as a family saga when I first began it in '93) was for the female lead to end up with the guy who ended up becoming the antagonist. Somewhere late in my first major period of working on it, I hit upon the idea of her getting together with the other main guy vying for her affections. Then I came upon the even better idea of them having been secretly in love all along, and for her so-called relationship with the bad guy to be not at all what it seemed, but just a charade she was trapped into continuing.

    I also originally had planned for the dark moment in the sequel to go down a bit differently, when I only knew the female lead as she was for most of the first novel. For her to voluntarily commit adultery when her separation with her husband was almost over would make absolutely no sense and fly in the face of all the emotional growth she'd undergone. I wrote it instead that she was tricked into adultery when she wasn't in command of all her senses after another difficult birth, and held hostage to these delusions because the bad guy pushes morphine, alcohol, and mescaline on her.