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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Author Insight: Character Calamity

Which of your characters causes you the most problems while writing? What kind of shenanigans do they pull?

"The character Aisha in my current work-in-progress is causing me all sorts of problems. I think it’s her determination and positivity in
the face of adversity. I tend to be a 'mountains out of molehills'
kind of guy, so her going the other way is making it hard for me to
connect with her interior. She just keeps doing the exact opposite of
what I’d do! Darned Aisha!" - Bill Konigsberg, author of Openly Straight

"I am a bit of a control-freak author so I don't know that I have any characters that really cause me problems. For me, the hardest character to work with is the point-of-view character--especially if I'm writing in first person--because you have to push them around while you're in their head and sometimes finding balance between those two is tricky." - Aprilynne Pike, author of Life After Theft and Earthbound.

"One of our main characters, Lucy, has been criticized for being too simply the damsel in distress. Admittedly, she was a challenge because, in The Loners, she was meant to cause trouble between the brothers, David and Will, and so her personal desire as a character could never trump the heroes’ plot. Her problem as character was that she didn’t pull many shenanigans at all. But we’ve taken that issue head on in The Saints. Lucy gets wild." - Lex Hrabe , co-author of Quarantine: The Loners

"Girls are hardest for me. There’s something about writing guys that’s easy. I think girls change their minds more often and are maybe more conflicting. My husband always says men are simple and reliable in their wants. Women change their minds often. I tend to agree." - Victoria Scott, author of The Collector.

"All my characters are some aspect of me, good, bad, guilty, innocent. They are complicated and confusing and their motivation often eludes me, digger deeper into my characters usually means I learn something about myself." -  Nora Raleigh Baskin, author of Surfacing.

"I can’t say that any particular character or characters in Slated or the next books of the trilogy were a particular problem to write over the others. But my characters do tend to get a mind of their own as they develop, and frequently surprise me. A good example is Kyla’s mother in Slated: she evolved into someone quite different to how I envisioned her at the start." - Teri Terry, author of Slated

"I don’t usually have this problem, since I’m very much a planner. I’m not a pantser—that is, I don’t just make it up as I go and see what happens. That method works for others, and works well, but it’s not how I do. I do try to let character growth happen organically, but so far none of the characters have gotten wildly out of hand!" - Jeff Sampson, author of  Ravage

"Definitely the antagonist. Let's face it, lots of writers were big readers growing up. We put our heads in books and lived life vicariously. Antagonists deceive and trick and scheme and make readers squirm, and are so hard to write, and so delicious once written. When I can get my antagonist to lure the protagonist into the shenanigans... extra yummy. But first fleshing out the antagonist -- that causes me the most problems." - A.B. Westrick, author of Brotherhood

"Tyler did, for sure. I was constantly screaming at my laptop and throwing pillows because he was always pissing me off. If you don't know what Tyler did, then you need to read From Ashes!" - Molly McAdams, author of Taking Chances

"Oh, all of them are troublesome at one time or another! That's half the fun of it. If they were so easy and obedient to my ideas, then they'd be flat and way less interesting to write or read. Usually, when a chapter comes to a grinding halt with someone refusing to cooperate, it's because I've tried to make that character do something that's not what he or she would  do, just for the sake of the plot I had in mind. I have to go back then, and figure out where I went wrong." - Stacey Kade, author of The Ghost & the Goth and The Rules

"In Pretty Girl-13, some of the secondary characters with the least stage time were the most vivid to me. In my WIP, a secondary character leapt up and took the story off to a very important subplot and then demanded a sequel starring herself." - Liz Coley, author of Pretty Girl-13. 

"The quieter characters cause me the most trouble. Not because they get into shenanigans, but because they have so many layers to unpack before they are fully realized and sometimes those layers go to scary places, to places that are reflected by reality, by humanity. I find, too, that I have to discover and give these characters shenanigans myself to counteract how they might be too quiet. And when you've unpacked layers of despair or sadness or hope, it doesn't feel so nice to throw those shenanigans in their paths.

With other characters, it's shenanigans all day long! And that's fun.
" - Kristin Halbrook, author of Nobody But Us. 

"My characters tend to wait to wreak havoc until I’m editing, and which point they get very grumpy about having to change in front of my editor. I maintain that they’re shy." - Robyn Schneider, author of The Begining of Everything.

Find out Thursday if the rest of the authors ever have trouble reining in their characters.

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