Characters Run Amuck: What do you do when a character takes over and develops a mind of her own?


This article is part of the Rolling Mystery Blog Tours Ink blog hop for Monday, December 12, 2011. For other articles on this subject, see the list of other participants below the article.

And now for my article: Characters Run Amuck

Have you ever had a character hijack your story and run with it? I hate it when that happens.  In my debut novel, Ultimate Justice, A Trey Fontaine Mystery,  there is a character named Gemini Taylor who likes to be in charge. She kept trying to become the lead and push all the other characters out of the way. I can’t count how many pages she stole before I finally got her under control.

I think maybe this comes from being able to identify with the character. We see ourselves in that character and want her to succeed, and so we let her get away with stuff that no one else can. But ultimately, the writer has to make a decision and take back control. My way of handling it is to go ahead and write all those pages the character demands, then pick the best of the writing and put the rest in a folder to save for later, just in case. I find this works for me because I’m not eliminating the words, nor refusing to let the character speak.

I try to keep in mind the fact that I created this character, and ultimately, she is part of me. I must let her speak, but I don’t have to let her make the final decisions. I have a friend who is a writer. She told me that while she was writing a book that had a minor character in it, that character started visiting her and bugging her to write a book where he was the lead. She explained to him that in the next book, he would be the lead, but this book had to be finished first. That seemed to work for her.

Yes, we both sound a little nuts, but after all, aren’t most writers a little off? I mean, really, what kind of person can think up this stuff, create people out of thin air and make you believe they are real, and their stories are real? We sit for hours day dreaming, planning, creating, until we have the right people, in the right circumstances, to entice readers to spend hours with those people and care about their story. And don’t tell anyone, but some of us are…uh…wacko.

Take me for instance. I love to get into the heads of serial killers, rapists, molesters, and assorted fiends. I can live there for a long time. That can’t be the sign of a normal well-adjusted person, can it?

For another article on this subject, please visit: 

Kathleen Kaska at http://kathleenkaskawrites.blogspot.com

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3 comments on “Characters Run Amuck: What do you do when a character takes over and develops a mind of her own?

  1. Great article, Ryder. We are a little nuts, but isn’t it fun! I’ve given up on trying to figure out where all the characters come from. I’m just glad they choose to spend some time with me.

  2. Liz says:

    This is excellent insight, Ryder. I have a character running amok right now. I actually stopped writing and focused on world building for a couple of months while trying to figure out what to do about it. Thanks for the tips on how to handle it!

    • Thanks Liz.
      I’ve heard successful writers say we are the ones in control, but I have my doubts. Letting the character run is part of the creative process for me. Hope it helps you too.

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