Friday, February 12, 2010

When Your Characters Are On Their Own Frickin' Program

I'm not sure if this is purely a Marine-ism or something that normal people say, as Marines have their own language.  Marines say "On your own program, aren't you?" when someone is doing their own thing, instead of pulling for the team and following orders. In fact, it's also an acronym: OFP. Own. Frickin'. Program.

With SHARDS, my characters have been on their OFP. 

The worst of it is the relationship between April and Connor. They break up early in the book, even though Connor and April are the fated lover types. April needs Connor's sanity, and Connor needs April's liveliness. At the end of the book, they were supposed to re-unite with a slightly ambiguous ending, agreeing to give their love a chance and rebuild their trust in each other.

But. They wouldn't stay broken up.  It was only a matter of chapters before they admitted they missed each other.  Then Connor started trying to help April with her situation. She confessed that she loved him, chose him. They would not stay apart, like they were supposed to.

So they have a happy ending, because I couldn't get away with writing anything else.

I find it best to accept my characters' stubborn natures and follow the deviations in my story arc, because anything else would ring false to me. But, man.  How do characters get so out of control?

Does this happen to you? Do you try to steer your characters back down the path, or give up and let them run, skip and amble ahead of you to some unknown destination?


Shelley Sly said...

Oh, yes yes yes. I know this too well!

It depends on the situation whether or not I keep my original plans or let my characters take control. I outline my novels beforehand, and if my outline is really detailed with not much room for change, I write it the way I originally planned, while still keeping in mind the characters' desires if I want to do a re-write.

If my outline is more loose, I let them have their way. This happened to me recently, not in my completed novels, but in one that I was just tinkering with for fun. I was trying to create a love triangle with a girl and two guys, but the girl absolutely refused to like one of the guys, even though I pushed her. At first I was like, "Great. Thanks for writing my story for me." But my characters are pretty real to me, so I give them a certain degree of freedom.

Good luck with April and Connor. Sounds like a good story!

Caroline Starr Rose said...

Just today I had a character show me something I didn't know about my over plot.

Helpful when you let them loose to tell their story.

Emily Ann Benedict said...

Lol, I know exactly what you are talking about.
In one of my stories I had a recently devorced character who was supposed to be rather forlorned, but in the first chapter she appeared in she was mouthing off and making some of the funniest comments in the book.
...I gave up and decided to just enjoy her. ;)

Donna Hole said...

In my third novel, when my definitely-not-her-best-interest love of her life askes her to marry him again, she says YES. That is not in the epilogue I have planned.

Good thing the other two books haven't published yet and the characters have plenty of time to rethink their plot re-write.

But Conner and April: oh, yes.


Donna Hole said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dangerous With a Pen said...

This completely happened to me recently - I posted about it a few days ago. I had this very interesting, scientific idea and plotted my story, but then I actually started writing... and my MC went off in a completely different direction. COMPLETELY.

I didn't know whether to trust her or not.

I'm going with it. :) I still have my original outlines but now I like her idea better.

She had better not demand a dedication. ;)

Tiffany Neal said...

Characters have to lead the way for me. If they don't they get all pissy and don't give me anything to work with. So, I just throw my hands in the air and say, "Fine. You win. I'm the writer here, but who cares about what I want..."

(Yes, I do talk to myself and my characters. No, I do not live in a padded cell...yet.)

Guinevere said...

Shelley, it's interesting to read how you handle your characters. I'm with you -- my characters feel very real to me.

Caroline, it's always fun when that happens! It's strange (and often wonderful) that as writers, we're sometimes surprised by our work.

Lol, Emily. "Give up and enjoy them" is certainly a good motto when it comes to rebellious characters!

Donna, that is too funny. And I'm glad to hear that you like the happy ending for April and Connor. Speaking of which, I owe you an email back -- I've been traveling all this past week, and it's been really hectic. I'm sorry!

Lyndsey, as much as I want to plot more, that's always my issue with plotting... like a battle plan, it rarely holds up to first contact. :p Love the idea of your character demanding a dedication!

Guinevere said...

Nothing wrong with talking to your characters, Tiffany! Although I've been caught once or twice running dialogue out loud for myself when I thought I was alone, which is a little awkward.