Writing Wilde – Writing Tip – What do you do when characters refuse to cooperate?

I had an entire book plotted and the chapters designated for specific actions. My characters where flushed out, including a list of their likes and dislikes, their reasons for their foibles, and what their goals were.

And then my main male character sat down and refused to move.

There were already several pages of dialogue and action written specifically for him. And again, I plotted much of the book on what his reaction and motives would be. No matter what I did or how I wrote the first chapter it became very clear that most of what I’d done, would need to be revised. The MC (main character) refused to cooperate.

I could have pushed him into the box I created for him. But the thing is, the story he wanted me to tell is so much better than what I devised. Where I liked him before, I fell in love with the new man.

Ever try and tell a friend or family member who doesn’t write—that your characters aren’t doing what you want? They think you’re crazy. Non writers do not understand how the book can take on a life of its own. They believe that you should be in charge.

Ah, no. At least not always.

What do I do when a character takes a strong turn from what I have planned?

Don’t Delete

Well. Here is what I don’t do. I don’t erase what I’ve already done. I save AA_file 1 and make the changes on AA_file 2.

Why? For several reasons. One, I could be having an off day. The character bitchin in my ear that he doesn’t like what I’ve done… could actually be weak coffee, or bad guacamole. Whatever… And tomorrow I could wake up in a cold sweat, trying to recreate what I deleted the day before.

Here is a tip. Don’t delete. I rarely erase anything. I have files of deleted scenes, alternate worlds, and details that ended up being too much background. When you have been a writer for a year or more (I’m into my second decade.) you will find a way to use some of those files.

What I planned for character A and didn’t use, may work for character D a few months from now. Or some of it might work. Or a setting for one character that was too much fluff, could be revamped for another.

If nothing else… readers love deleted scenes or alternate endings. I use them as Reader Rewards on my website and in newsletters.

 Plot or Pants

When I started writing it was all by the seat of my pants. All inspiration and waking up in the middle of the night so I could scribble out the next scene. The longer I write, the more I started to plan. But… I allow my characters room to grow or change. And if something isn’t working, I save the file and take it back to a point that did work and try a different direction.

So, what happened to my misbehaving character? He won. It’s being written his way. So I don’t spoil anything, when the book is finished I’ll tell you why!

Have a wonderful week,