Sometimes, characters have a life of their own…

I’m trucking away on book 2 of The Star Hunters trilogy. It’s going pretty well, though I did hit a few snags here and there, most recently due to confusing myself with timeline issues. Solved that by getting wild and crazy with a bunch of post-it notes and some wall space. And honestly, after using 8 different colors for different character timelines and a 9th color for random thoughts and detail ideas, I don’t feel too bad about getting stuck where I did. There was a lot of crap going down!

But even after jotting down all the major plot points and character reactions, sitting down to write the actual chapters has resulted in a few twists and turns that I did not see coming. I tend to go with the flow of those since they often lead to a more natural scene break or point of view switch than I had planned, which in turn leads to an alternate perception of events. Lance and Lissa see things differently, and a scene that started out from one character’s perspective gets a pretty different flavor when the other one takes over.

Such is how it went today. One chapter became two chapters, and when the point of view changed, the ending of the second one became a lot grimmer.

I’ve learned to let my characters and chapters do that if they need to. Yes, I’m the writer, and I have absolute control, but I still find myself breaking off in the middle of a scene to consider a possibility that did not come up in the planning stage, simply because I realize that a character might not have actually reacted this way, or a peripheral character may have had more of an impact than I could fit on a post-it note. Often, I find that this works out for the better, even if I have to rethink some later ideas, and even if it turns out to be total crap, that’s what revisions are for.

I’ve found that trying to ignore these twists and turns tends to lead to bad writing, or even just no writing, period. There may be writers out there who can plow straight through their pre-planned ideas and never run into these snags, but in my experience, I’ve found that it’s better for me to just let go.

Sometimes, you have to sit back, and let events unfold as your characters see fit.


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