14 July 2013

Controlling Characters in a Novel

Creative Control of Literary Characters

Creating characters, settings and plot and the main building blocks for novels. With these three elements in place, you will be on your way to writing your novel. However, many writers find a curious thing occurs after they have begun. Their characters take over. What does that mean? It means the writer has a plot in mind but the characters seem to take a life of their own and diverge from the writer’s intended course.

When Characters Take on Lives of Their Own

When your characters take on a life of their own, you have a decision to make. Do you give them free range to do what they like or do you put them under control. The answer is that it depends. It depends on where your characters are going. Have they taken your novel off track? Will the direction the characters are going lead to the intended resolution of the plot? Good novel writing begins with an outline, which describes your plot. Check the new direction your characters have taken against your outline, then decide if they can exist side by side.

Taking Control of Your Novel Writing

Your characters don’t control your novel, you do. If you like the new developments your characters have created “on their own,” find a way to merge them with your plot. If you cannot merge them with your intended story line, then you need to make tough decisions. Do you change your plot or do you delete the part of the story in which your characters diverged?

Deciding on the Plot for Your Novel

It is not advisable to let your characters run the show. Make the needed decisions to get your novel writing back under your control. The good news is, that no writing is wasted. If you decide to cut out sections of writing to get your story back on track, don’t actually delete them. Cut them and paste them onto separate documents. Save the new document for later use. Be sure to give the saved document a good label. You might wind up with a folder full of these set-aside ideas. That’s O.K. You are a writer. Writers write. Novel writers write a lot.