Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Do your characters ever change on you, especially in ways you didn't expect? Do they ever just throw your plans for them out the window? Well, mine certainly like to.

Okay, in all honesty, they rarely take the plot places I didn't expect it to go or am not okay with it going. They can usually take direction. But, then again, there are times when I call that actor in from the wings, and they're definitely not who I thought they were.

I'm about 7 pages into Cordamant's Heir, and both my Female Lead and Male Lead have already surprised me. I just looked at my original character sheets and discovered they'd change a great deal.

My MC, Amira, was supposed to bed pale, thin, with green eyes. Now, she has dusky skin, thick black hair, light brown eyes, and, the way I see her, she's got some jam in her jelly. I like her better that way. It feel real to the character. I'm just surprised at how she changed.

The Male Lead, Azra, took a big internal change. He's still the same at his soul, but, according to my original notes, he was going to be an orphan who an uncle who tries to control his life. About three days ago, his parents came back into existence.So, internal changes. That fact also changes his position politically, which also adds some new flavor to his position in the book.

During my first draft of the Thief Book, a character named Anna-Maria appeared. She was originally described as having 'the personality of a porcupine.' Then, well, it turned out she had a good reason to be a porcupine, and she became involved in a subplot in the story, one that grew increasingly important in the revisions. I didn't see that coming when I introduced her into the story.

I'm looking forward to even more surprises as I work on Cordamant's Heir. I'm sure it'll keep things interesting.

Do you ever get surprised by your characters? Do they ever turn out not to be who you thought they were?


  1. In my second book I had a character who started off only being in one scene, who eventually grew into carrying a whole sub-plot on his shoulders. AND I'M AN OUTLINER! So don't let people tell you that outlining squashes creativity and spontaniety!

  2. I had to laugh (and still am) when I read your first sentence. My characters change all the time, much to my consternation. Currently I'm having a fight with Genna, she wants one thing, and I want another and I'm not sure who's going to win. Which is why that story is on the back burner.

  3. Oh my characters all have a life of their own...they make up their own plotlines, too. And colour their hair, get coloured contacts and start affairs with the most inconvenient characters.

  4. Honestly, I love it when my characters surprise me. It always feels like I've stumbled upon some right answer that I didn't know about before. In the end it still comes from our own head, but some of it feels natural and other things feel forced. You're probably just finding out what's natural.

  5. DL -- I concur, even with an outline, things can definitely surprise you.

    Piedmont -- Well, I'm always glad to inspire laughter. ;) If I might offer some advice about the situation with Genna, consider letting her have her way. I think when our characters tell us things, it's our way of unconsciously recognizing the truth of the story. You don't have to give in all the way, but the idea might be worth following.

    Tessa -- Your characters sound like very interesting people. (I almost called them colorful characters but that just felt to punny and misconstruable.)

    Davin -- I think you're right about seeing what's natural to the story. I'm certainly enjoying the surprises.

  6. My characters change on me all the time. I envy people who write series- I feel like I only get to really know my characters at the end of a novel and then they're done. I'd love to be able to keep going, but since I write historicals, they're usually dead at the end.

  7. Most definitely. When I wrote a screenplay for my senior thesis, my supporting character, Bas, was going to be a loner, not talkative, and have a chip on his shoulder. He ended up being a bit whiny, warm, and noble. He didn't respond well to me putting words in his mouth at all <_<

  8. Stephanie -- Rest in peace, the characters of Miss Thornton. Are there at least a few survivors? I feel like writing a series would be interesting, getting to see a character grow and change of the course of the books.

    Vicki -- Some characters have a way of letting you know when you're getting them wrong. I'm glad you found the truth of your character by the end of the project. Also, cool smiley. :)