Character Rebellion

13 Aug

I won’t start this blog with the question, “Have you ever had a character take the scene from your hands and go in a direction you hadn’t expected?”

I already know the answer.


For me, one of the most exciting and yet, disconcerting components of writing is when one or more of my characters go rogue and change my careful, brilliantly plotted out scene. Seriously, you’d think they were real!

In a scene I’m writing for my WIP, I planned to have “Joe” withhold from my heroine’s mother his attraction to her daughter, “Mary,” since the mom doesn’t want Mary involved with a cop because of the danger. Joe keeps throwing out objections to various potential suitors for Mary.

The objections are lame and the mother realizes this. It dawned on me two pages into the scene that Mom isn’t stupid. If she knows the objections aren’t valid, why wouldn’t she figure out it was because Joe didn’t like the idea of Mary dating anyone else? Or, at the least, question Joe on his reasons.

So, the scene is evolving into another conflict because Mom warns Joe away from Mary. If Joe can’t stay away, his years-long friendship with Mom (who is his neighbor) is jeopardized. Cool. Whichever decision Joe makes will cause unhappiness to someone. Very cool.

This character rebellion has happened at least once in every book I’ve written. And this after I think I’ve done my due diligence and learned my characters’ GMCs, personalities, quirks, etc. The thing is, they are being their unique characters. Rather, when I put the words on the page, I realize they wouldn’t act/react the way I’ve written them.

So, here’s to characters that know what’s best for them.

Tell me your character rebellion stories. Come on, I know you have them.


Posted by on August 13, 2012 in writing, writing craft


Tags: , ,

18 responses to “Character Rebellion

  1. Liz Fredericks

    August 13, 2012 at 7:56 AM

    Well, let me tell you ~ my lead protagonist switched genders on me half way through the ms! Huge rewrite ensued, but between you and me . . . he . . . she is much happier now, better suited to routing the bad guys. 😉

  2. Janis McCurry

    August 13, 2012 at 7:58 AM

    Pesky characters. Ya gotta love ’em!

  3. Lynn Mapp

    August 13, 2012 at 9:15 AM

    Janis, dealing with these people takes a lot of work. Just when you think you’ve got them figured out they pull stunts. They have minds of their own.

  4. Janis McCurry

    August 13, 2012 at 9:24 AM

    Which means we’re doing our jobs. Yay.

  5. stephanieberget

    August 13, 2012 at 9:58 AM

    It’s that wowza moment when they really take shape. I love when that happens.

  6. maryvine

    August 13, 2012 at 10:09 AM

    I’m not a very good plotter (which I’d like to be). My character’s rebellion comes about more in the actions between the hero and heroine, I think. Their conflict just moves it along sometimes. But isn’t the rebellion one of the things that make writing fun?

  7. Janis McCurry

    August 13, 2012 at 10:16 AM


  8. Betsy Love Lds Author

    August 13, 2012 at 10:38 PM

    I love when an unexpected character shows up, and I find myself asking, “what the heck are you doing in my book?” And then several chapters later, I do the face palm and say, “DUH! I know exactly why you’re here. Thank you for showing up and making my novel sizzle!!!”

  9. Janis McCurry

    August 14, 2012 at 7:03 AM

    So true. I’ve found that some minor characters end up demanding a subplot or even subsequent book for their own story. Who knew? Thanks for dropping in, Betsy.

  10. marsharwest

    August 14, 2012 at 8:02 AM

    I’m a big plotter and like to control everything, but that’s even happened with me. I had a character take over so much I thought he was going to lure the heroine back home to Texas–so not what was supposed to happen in that book. We made a pact. He let my heroine (book 4) stay in Vermont, and I promised him his own book (WIP book 6). It is very exciting when that whatever comes along and takes over the keys and they go lickety split with the story.
    Nice post, Janis. Chuckeled over the “Seriously, you’d think they were real.” comment.

    • Janis McCurry

      August 14, 2012 at 9:08 AM

      There you go, material for another book. Nice guy! Thanks, Marsha.

  11. Peggy Staggs

    August 14, 2012 at 8:19 AM

    I hate when my characters go off script. I know two things at that point. One, my carefully designed plot is now in the recycle bin. And two, I’ve got a major revision in my future. Drat those scoundrels.

  12. Janis McCurry

    August 14, 2012 at 9:09 AM

    That’s what you get for writing such a vivid character!

  13. Meredith Conner

    August 15, 2012 at 10:22 AM

    What?! Don’t you have control over those characters? Ha! The last time my heroine insisted on taking the plot in a completely different direction than I had planned. And she was right too. Darn it.

    • Janis McCurry

      August 15, 2012 at 11:47 AM

      Exactly. It’s so annoying when they are “write.”

  14. Clarissa Southwick

    August 19, 2012 at 2:28 PM

    I usually try really hard not to listen, and then end up having to do a hundred revisions. Better to let them have their own way. Great post, Janis

  15. Janis

    August 19, 2012 at 3:07 PM

    “…try hard not to listen…” That’s funny, Clarissa!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: