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Thursday, November 4, 2010

More Author Insight: Character Coercion

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

" No, usually they’re the ones talking me INTO things!" - Leah Clifford, author of A Touch Mortal.

"I was dead set on having this snarky gal I'm writing bite another girl. My character reminded me she's not a vampire and would rather just yank the girl's hair instead, so I listened to her." - Daisy Whitney, author of The Mockingbirds.

"In my current WIP, I was sure one of the male characters was a potential love interest, but he wasn’t having any of it.  Now they’re just friends." - Jen Nadol, author of The Mark.


 "No, but they've talked me into quite a few things...generally I get into the art imitates life imitates art loop. For example, I meet someone who is Haitian, I become curious about Haitian culture, I read a little about it, a Haitian character happens to appear in the story i'm writing. But then I realize that in order to do the character justice, I need to know more about Haitian culture, so I read more books, and watch movies, and eat food, attend Voudon ceremonies, and become unrestrainedly obsessed with Haitian culture for the better part of a year to the point where I utterly burn out on it, put the story away, and write something totally different. But after a time, that character starts nagging me. He wants his story told. Eventually, I give in and write that story with the Haitian character in it because he just won't leave me alone." - Jon Skovron, author of Struts & Frets.

"Maybe it’s more that they talked me into something I wouldn’t do. I’m not a meltdown kind of person. For an adult novel, my critique group suggested my character have a fit, something approaching a breakdown. I resisted, but then had to agree that it was called for, conflict-enhancing, and just plain old entertaining." - Wendy Delsol, author of Stork. 

"All the freakin' time. Like I said I try to let them motivate the story." - Rebecca Maizel, author of Infinite Days.

"I can’t say that I’ve had this happen to me yet.  That’s probably because I don’t do a whole lot of planning when I begin a project. I try to let things develop naturally and arise from the subconscious." - Kelly Creagh, author of Nevermore.


"Definitely.  Wesley in The DUFF changed quite a bit. I thought he would be a lot colder as a character - more calculating and conniving. When he fought me on that, and became a much more relaxed character, I struggled with how he would interact with others.  But when I stepped back and just let hte words flow, he steered the story in a better direction. Trust your characters." - Kody Keplinger, author of The DUFF.

"The loser in a romantic triangle persuaded me that he should be the winner after all.  Of course, the story is still a work-in-progress, so the other guy still has a fair shot of making a comeback." - Dianne Salerni, author of We Hear the Dead.

"Yes. I killed someone for the first time in a book and I didn't know I was going to do it until it happened." - Ally Condie, author of Matched.

"My characters don’t talk to me. I hope that doesn’t make me a freak among writers? They talk to each other, for sure. They sit there sullenly and refuse to do things I want them to… they shock me by doing other, weirder things instead. But then, they aren’t aware of my existence. I think if they knew about me and the way I try to influence their lives, it would make them sad and scared. So it’s better this way, even if I do get lonely." - Phoebe Kitanidis, author of Whisper.


"No. I like to put my characters through their paces, and I think I have fairly good reasons for subjecting them to the things I do." - Lia Habel, author of Dearly, Departed.

  "Our characters are constantly telling us what to do. For those of you who’ve read Beautiful Creatures & Beautiful Darkness, Link and Ridley originally had very little page time—at least that was our intention. But they had other ideas. It’s easy to see who calls the shots. The one thing none of characters can do is talk us out of killing them. Sometimes, someone has to die…" - Kami Garcia, co-author of Beautiful Creatures.

"I don’t think my characters have ever really talked me out of anything, but I’ve certainly changed my mind many, many times because what was in my outline suddenly didn’t seem to fit the characters. That is always a sign that I’m getting to know my characters better, which I think is great." - Denise Jaden, author of Losing Faith.

"In The Secret Year, there were two characters I thought would get together, but they refused. They didn't belong together at that time; it didn't work."- Jennifer Hubbard, author of The Secret Year.


Stop by Tuesday to find out if reading while they draft a book disrupts their writing process.
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