Monday, December 10, 2007

Off the Reservation

Sometimes a character you're writing about goes off the reservation. I don’t mean to be politically incorrect here with that turn of phrase. That’s just the phrase that works best. Last week (and this week) the main male character in Medusa’s Daughter, decided he should do something crazy.

The twenty-five page single spaced outline wasn’t good enough for Nikander. I thought I had it all figured out, but then he decided he was going to kill the main villain in chapter 16. Now, don’t get me wrong. Medusa deserves it in a bad way. But, it really wasn’t in the outline until much later—think chapter 26!

The good news is that Nikander knew the story needed to go in this direction and he went for it. The problem for me is that I feel a little lost now. I have three new chapters to deal with. They’re good chapters (I’m so humble, yes), but it made me pause and have to really think for a while. Which is good and I believe the novel needed to go in this direction. Still, it gave me the deer in the headlights look for a while.

My point here is that despite my anal, structured, over planning nature, I can be flexible—and so should you. I’m still advocating doing some extensive planning, via the Snowflake method. Go to:

for a complete description of the Snowflake Method and to sign up for Randy Ingermanson’s ezine, which is quite valuable—and free.

Have fun writing and when your main character decides to do something you didn’t expect, think about it for a while, very carefully, and then decide if it’s a good idea for the story. Sometimes, it’s going to be a great idea. Then you have to trust your character and let them take you like 10,000 words off the reservation.

Happy Holidays!

Paul Genesse
Author of The Golden Cord
Book One of the Iron Dragon Series
Five Star Books (April 2008)


Anonymous said...

Dude, I just went through a character revolt last week!

Sucks at first, but then I'm always like....'damn, why didn't I plan it this way?'

coopercards said...

Keep on keepin on man!