Sunday, November 14, 2010

Spanking Your Characters

FIRST OFF: Sign up for my QUERY LETTER BLOGFEST happening Dec. 12th-18th

Usually I appreciate the choose your own adventure style of writing where the character take you away from your plan and eventually bring you back on track.
I like writing this way, because sometimes your characters really do know the story better than the author, and when all is said and done you end up with a stellar piece of writing that would otherwise have been left out of the MS.  
But right now, I don’t like this style. I’ve always been a writing by the seat of my pants writer with just the characters and the plot in my head. Everything that connects the chapters together really comes to me as I write.
And this had never bothered me until this past week, because I am writing off of an outline this time around.
Two characters in my NaNo novel, light decided they wanted to go jump in the sack. This was a-okay until they decided to shut me out of the room and lock the door. They even hung a sign on the handle that read: come back sometime in December of 2011.
I have written a few lines here and there for the past couple of days, but haven’t been very happy with what I have written.
So I took some advice from a writer friend who sufferes from long spells of writers block. He told me: take back control of your story. Go back to where the characters took it away and delete everything after that, that way you won’t be tempted to try and base anything off of the shit you wrote that you didn’t like.
Make sense, right?
Sure, unless you are trying to make a 50K in 30 days dead line.
Well, I bit the proverbial bullet and did what he said.
I deleted 2K, spanked both characters (turns out they both liked it) and cornered them. The convo went something like this:
You stay right there.
You over there.
What are you two doing? You’re both dating other people!
No sex for you!
But I caved and added, Not yet anyway…
Drum roll please.
I am now sitting across the halfway mark at 25,050 words and still have a few hours of writing in me tonight.
*Claps for self*

Check out the right hand sidbar to read a bit of what I wrote today. =>
Have your characters ever taken you on an unexpected ride to places you didn't even know existed in your authorial mind?  Did it add substance and flavor to your novel that you would have missed out on if you stuck to 'the plan?'
Happy reading. Happier Writing.


Fickle Cattle said...

Always. Sometimes I don't even know what I'm writing, I just become the character and just let myself be.

Dan said...

That's got to take a lot of will power to just delete 2000 words when your working toward a deadline. I don't think i could do that no matter what tangents they take. I have trouble deleting the ramdon 'double word' typos I make.

I actually gave serious thought to un-contracting my contractions to improve the word count, but I not that desperate...yet.

Ax said...

Hi Jodi,

I usually don't make major cuts in word count until into the editing process. If my characters want to go one way and I want to go another, I let them, and then write two scenes: one the way I want to and one the way they want to and make the decision later about which one works better. Sometimes the characters know better than I do.

I do stop by your blog as often as I can and read though I don't always comment. Thanks for enduring my rhapsodies on sustainable ag and NaNo is going... something about having a job, going to grad school, having a farm, a social life, and trying to change careers right before the holidays interferes with making word count :p and responding to comments in a timely manner.

Keep up the hard work with NaNo.

Terry Stonecrop said...

My characters, so far, are better than I am. It's when I try to stop them and start intellectualizing: "I really think I need more violence here..." That's when it goes to hell for me:)

I love what you wrote the other day. Nice work!

Brenda Drake said...

This was perfect for me to read this morning. I've been struggling with the same thing in my NaNo project. I love spanking my characters back into submission. I just went over 25k as well. It helps that a few of us meet for word wars everynight - gets us writing and sharing each others works. Tweet me if you want to join us. Good luck with the word count today! :D

Okie said...

lol...good luck with that.

I'm a "seat of the pantser" too and often find my characters taking off without me. It's rather annoying and often difficult to reign them back in.

Have fun.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

They've never taken me in a radical direction. Certainly not one that involved sex! I couldn't handle that.