I’m pretty sure that’s what the characters in my story thought recently. The plot I imagined in my head is now a jumbled mess of pop up characters and odd turns of events. But I’ll roll with it, for now.
I like to listen my characters when I write. They can be very helpful at times, breaking me free from a corner by suddenly jumping up and deciding they want to do something right now. And they can be very confusing, leaving me screaming WHY at the screen. Why would you go there, why would you say that, why would you torment me so. All is not lost when these questions arise, however. I might learn something new. Maybe it’s not relevant and maybe I’ll end up removing chunks of story in the end, but at least I’ll know not to let that character do it again.
For example, one character insisted on more action and managed to get into trouble just fine. The problem is, now they’re stuck in that trouble. Any exit I can think of feels off and the character has gone lazy, content on sitting on their hands and not even trying to be helpful. Good for you, character, but I should really get the plot moving… Perhaps I’ll have to do a casting event for the rest of the crew, see which one comes up with the best rescue plan.
And who are all these pop up characters? I never wanted them but yet there they are, taking up pages. They do contribute to the story, in a way, but refuse to shape up into real characters, just standing around like faceless mannequins. At least half of them are useless and are heading right for the chopping board when the big knife of editing strikes.
When it comes to the story itself, I’m pretty good at keeping the core intact from start to finish. A scene might play out differently or a character may be left behind during the edits, new chapters could be added, but the main plot rarely changes from the original plan.
But to be honest I’m not too strict about my first drafts. I’ll let all kinds of things in out of curiosity. If something doesn’t work in the end, I’ll just edit it out. Maybe this is one of the reasons I’m not a big fan of editing… Oh well. Some day I might learn to separate bad ideas from good before they make it on the paper, but for now I’m going to accept even the bad ones as writing practice.
How do you handle unruly characters and bouncing plot? Do you guide everything back on track as soon as you notice the change, or do you follow the alternate path to the end to see if it works or not? Do you even have problems guiding the characters or are they all model citizens, doing exactly like you first planned?