Thursday, May 13, 2010

When My Characters Get Out of Control

I tend to lean toward the weird. My paranormal playing field delves into a different milieu, abandoning vampires and werewolves, but not discounting them. Someday I might like to write a novel about vamps and those furry creatures. But for now I like a different flavor mixed with my romance. A strong hero or heroine confronted with extraordinary forces of nature, powers and capabilities gets my blood running hot.

A friend recently turned me on to writing short stories. What a wonderful outlet. They're quick, fun and can be any genre I want. They also make a nice distraction when my novel's characters get out of hand. This happens if I allow my characters to lead the way and tell me where the story should go next and frankly, it can get a little overwhelming. So, to stay on track with my story, I will—and this is the fun part—take that idea my character had and write a short story based on their whims and desires. This allows me to keep my current work focused and not stray too much from where I was originally headed.

Tomorrow's my wedding anniversary. We'll be spending the night on a riverboat. Woo, my imagination can run wild with dozens of short stories on that one.

Who knows, maybe one of my short stories will take hold and turn into a novel.

Happy writing and thanks for reading. Be sure to leave a comment. I'm interested to see what you do for an out when your characters get out of hand.


  1. It is interesting how well developed characters can take on a life of their own when writing. There were several places in my book that changed from my initial ideas because of character desires and motivations.

    Happy Anniversary!

  2. Ah, the characters have wishes of their own.
    You have a good idea how to handle it.

    Happy Anniversary, Susan! Wear something slinky and ask your husband to wear a tux with a gold brocade vest. You can turns heads as the 'Riverboat Gambler and his doll' step aboard.
    Jeanne Voelker

  3. My characters don't get out of hand, but my imagination does. I've often had a character that is supposed to be minor and they turn out to be one of the most memorable.

    I can't say that they ever turn out differently than I first 'see' them when I begin writing. Perhaps this might be what sends me to the loony bin, but what the heck, I'll share anyway. You see, as I write, I hear the character's voice, always different, and always very clear in my head. I usually have a good visual image of them as well. It's very easy for me to slip into them when I write from their pov. My mistake lies in forgetting to make their actions make sense to the reader. In my mind, the explanations are clear, but I fail to put that on paper. Rewriting usually fixes that.

    So, this is quite a ramble. Sorry. I'm glad you've tried short stories, they're a great way to practice, and to get your mind focused too. Plus, I find them quite addictive.

  4. When I started writing for real, I had a novel that I considered to be the end-all-be-all story. I didn't think I had any other stories in me.

    That is, until I saw an advertisement for a short story contest. I began to ask myself, "What happens if the main character in my story fails?" And thus was born a short story series set thousands of years in the future. A short story series that later became a book.

    So I think you have hit upon a splendid idea!

  5. That is such a cool idea for a character outlet. You might have to sell your main book as a collection along with the appropriate short stories. It could develop into your signature style. Awesome.

    My characters pour their heart and soul out onto my page but they generally stay within the edges of the paper, though they will add a few unplanned quirks and corners to the overall tale.

  6. Wow, Thanks guys.

    Now to comment on your comments…

    First, CoachMT(Alan) and Jeanne, Thank you for your wishes for a happy anniversary. Trust me, we will try our best. I think acting out is in order.

    Second, I ran into headstrong characters, mostly on this current book and my story has changed from where it was originally headed. Not sure if that was good or bad, but now I'm stuck. So I'm taking a break. It'll come back to me. I have faith.

    So I like the idea that I have an outlet now. I can run with the idea, change the name or not, and see what turns out. My character's personalities don't change, just the plot may stray a little. Sometimes this is good.

    So if I can't figure out where my story is headed for a while, I'll take a break and write short stories. Thanks Renee, for turning me on to them.

    A short story series, now there's an excellent idea Rita. What's the name of that book?

    Having characters stay within the edges of the paper would be so out-of-character for me as I've never stayed within them myself, Anna, I'm glad you let them expand occasionally to add those unplanned quirks. They can be quite awesome when you let them loose.

    Thanks everyone.

  7. If my characters start to play up, I walk away and make greeting cards.
    I will then write a poem, or short story. Then back into kick the unruly into place!


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