Making your characters do what you want

Last Thursday, I sat watching an episode of Grey’s Anatomy (yes I’m hopelessly addicted to GA) and one of the medical cases was an author trying to complete a book before her surgery. One of the doctors got to talking with the author about her characters and found out the MC wasn’t going to fall in love with the wonderful, sweet guy and was instead going to spend her life with the bad boy character. The doctor was quite upset and began asking why. The MC was suppose to fall in love with the nice guy. The author explained that the MC didn’t love the nice guy. The doctor said, “But you’re the author, you can make them do anything you want!”

I’ve been thinking a lot about that over the past several days. Now I’m sure some authors have more control over their characters, or maybe mine are just especially unruly. But as a writer, I can say no, I can’t always make them do what I wish.

In fact, I found trying to force my characters into anything, usually results in a revolt and a refusal to move forward until I give them their freedom. In the worse instance of trying to force my characters, they ended up sitting at an inn for three months while I suffered from writers block. They blocked every attempt to move them until I agreed to cut two characters out of the story completely and delete nearly four chapters of writing. After that, the story flowed from my fingertips almost faster than I could type it (I had the typos to prove it). 

My characters let me know that while they understand what I wanted out of the story, the general direction I wanted it to go in and where I ultimately wanted it to end up, no one knows them better than themselves. They know better than me how to get from point A to point B. The one time I attempted to make an outline to follow, they took one look at it, laughed at me, then threw it away and left me to humbly write what they told me to. 

It works out best to give them that freedom within the framework of the world and the story I created. So no, just because I’m a writer, doesn’t mean I can make my characters do whatever I want. Some things I want never happen. Loki was suppose to die. Kellinar refused to allow such a thing and the dragons agreed with him. Kirynn was suppose to get a bondmate. She let me know on no uncertain terms she was NOT going to do any such thing. 

Like I said, this may not be true of every writer. Heck, it may not be true of most of them. Maybe my characters are unruly and at times rather disrespectful to me, their creator, but it works. I don’t have ultimate power. Characters I planned on dying, live. Those I think should live, sometimes die. Events I plan, get canceled. But my characters always make it up to me by showing me new and great things and revealing wonderful tidbits about themselves that even I was unaware of.

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