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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Author Insight: Character Coercion

Have your characters every talked you out of doing something you were sure you would do?

"Of course! They know what they want far better than I do."- Elizabeth Scott, author of Grace.

"Not yet. But I'm sure they are planning on it. ;-)" - Heidi Kling, author of Sea.

"I give my characters a certain amount of freedom, so I never feel tied down to how a scene MUST play out.  That said, I've had a few surprises along the way - a character revealed a motivation I had never consciously considered before, and made an offer I had never thought of." - Scott Tracey, author of Witch Eyes.

"Sometimes my character stray from what I have planned for them and lead me down a different path. They get opinionated too!" - Danielle Joseph, author of Indigo Blues.

"Absolutely. We outline at the beginning, and then sometimes ignore the whole thing. Knowing where you need to go is a totally different thing than knowing how you’re going to get there. The characters Ridley and Link just showed up in our first book and refused to go away. We tried to write them out over and over, and they just shoved their way back in. It happens." - Margaret Stohl, co-author of Beautiful Creatures.

"Yes, that pesky Savitri has talked me out of the direction of my manuscript after 100 pages.  Twice." - Swati Avashti, author of Split.

"Not really. My characters are fairly obedient. They fall in love when they're supposed to, and stay dead when they get killed." - Karen Kincy, author of Other.

"All the time.  But I'm very much a seat-of-the-pants writer.  I have to flail around a lot before I get to the final version of the story.  I just think of it as them trying different routes on their way to the goal." - Brenna Yovanoff, author of The Replacement.

"Yes.  I often think when I start a scene that I know exactly how it is going to end.  But usually my characters have a different idea of how the story really needs to go." - Bree Despain, author of The Dark Divine.

"Only one. I had planned to kill him, but I fell in love with the character and I just couldn’t bring myself to do it." - Courtney Allison Moulton, author of Angelfire.

"Oh yeah. It isn’t so much talking though. It’s more of a: “I’m doing this. Try and stop me.” That’s when your characters suddenly do something you didn’t expect and yet it’s so them that you know it’s right and who cares if your entire expectation for your novel changes—you have to go with it." - Diana Pharaoh Francis, author of Bitter Night.

"One of the characters in Freefall (Kendall) was supposed to appear in the very first scene and never be seen again.  Somehow, though, she managed to integrate herself into a good number of the subplots so that the story would fall apart without her. She's pushy like that!" - Mindi Scott, author of Freefall.

"Yes. I love it when they do that because it means they are directing the story. I'm a very character-driven writer. For instance, the character of George Harrison Prescott was originally conceived to be a sort of ruthless, Valmont type of seducer, but he refused to manifest himself that way. He's actually a really nice guy -- a bit promiscuous, yes, but he likes and respects the women he sleeps with. I ended up utterly charmed by him and decided to roll with his take on his own character, and in the end, I'm glad I steered clear of the stereotype. He became a far more interesting person for being a good guy and being such a good friend to Amy throughout the series." - Diana Peterfreund, author of Rampant.

"Originally, I didn't plan for Adriana to become such a close friend of Phe's, but the more I wrote her, the closer they became. She and Phe aren't exactly alike, but they come from a similar emotional space. They're both very guarded and afraid of getting hurt, though they'd never admit to it." - Anastasia Hopcus, author of Shadow Hills.

"Nope! I’m the boss of them. It’s usually my beta readers who talk me out of doing something I was sure I would do. And usually the thing I was sure I would do was awful. So I’m very, very lucky to have my readers." - Michelle Hodkin, author of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer.

"Yes!  Originally in Selling Hope, it was Hope’s father’s idea to sell the “anti-comet pills.”  But Hope kept wanting this idea to be hers; she was the one who hated life on the vaudeville circuit, after all, and needed the money to get out.  Needless to say, it changed Hope’s character and the entire plot.  Sneaky girl, that Hope." - Kristin Tubb, author of Selling Hope.

Stop by Thursday to learn if the rest of the authors have ever been overruled by the characters!
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