Thursday, August 5, 2010

Thoughts for Thursdays

Today's quote:

"Plot springs from character...I've always sort of believed that these people inside me--these characters--know who they are and what they're about and what happens, and they need me to help get it down on paper because they don't type." Anne Lamott

I know this is nothing new. Almost every single writer will tell you the same thing - at some point or another, the characters start to run the show. Sometimes it's hard to distinguish just who's telling the story and who's controlling what.

You find that you start off with one idea, only to find that you've written something completely different down on the paper, and pointless "arguments" with a certain rebellious teenage boy ensue.

My characters take me for a spin all the time. They are constantly changing things on me, doing things I didn't expect, which in turn, lead to new plots and storylines.

This is probably why for me, I can't really plot out the novel until I start writing and get to know my characters better and their motivation. Even after I do--they surprise me.

And it's true, sometimes don't you wonder if maybe that's what you're supposed to do? Tell their story for them? Otherwise, how would they get it out? ;)

Please share your thoughts on this. Have your characters started to reveal themselves to you as yet? How do they influence your plot?


17 comments:

Sandra Cox said...

Love the quote. Good blog.
I try to start with a rough outline to give myself a sense of direction but if the characters want to go a different route I tag along:)

Piedmont Writer said...

I'm totally with you here. I can't even begin to think about the "real" plot until I'm around Chapter 4. My characters speak to me all the time and drive me nuts. The sad part is, now I'm dreaming about them.

Erinn said...

My characters keep growing and changing on me. It's like they keep maturing as I keep maturing, but they still think fart jokes are funny.

Suzi McGowen said...

If I do my world building right, my characters show up there and develop there.

I didn't know that Rose (my character in my steampunk novel) was an actress and trained fighter until I did the world building and discovered that. That made her a whole lot scarier to handle :)

Jemi Fraser said...

Me too. My characters do some strange things when I least expect it - but if I follow their lead they usually know where they're going :)

Aubrie said...

Oh yes, my characters run the show all right!

One of my books has a love triangle, and the MC fell in love with the wrong man. I had to rewrite the whole first half. But I couldn't stop her. That's where the story naturally flowed.

Jaydee Morgan said...

Since I'm a major outliner, I try to really know my characters before I begin my outline. This is usually where changes come into play - I want to go one way, they another. This is also when I'm willing to give some leeway and see where they want to go.

However, once the writing starts, we're pretty much on the same page. Changes can still occur but by this point, it's more my decision to make the change.

Kenda said...

Great question: "...don't you wonder if that's what we're supposed to do...tell their story?" Yes! For me, it seems that a particular setting is the seed for my idea--so then the fun, and the struggle, is to find my character's story in there somewhere. For me first and then for my readers :-)

Great questions...

Vatche said...

That's an awesome quote, Writing Nut!

As for how my characters influence me, they put their hand on mine and whisper their adventures and secrets into my ears. They tell me of the best and worst of times and my hands follow their mouths. The characters have already lived through the plot and the story, but they wouldn't mind living through it again on paper and in the readers' minds.

Write on!

Amanda Sablan said...

I'm with you: my characters surprise me all the time, and they change without me even really realizing it. I guess that's why I can't really plot either until I've started to write a little.

~Nicole Ducleroir~ said...

I totally agree, and yet I'm having this a-ha moment at the same time. This may turn out to be my method...writing several chapters before I know enough about the characters to plot their actual story. It seemed like lost time before, but actually writing about them is the only way to capture their true essences.

Thanks for the food for thought!

Kelly Dexter said...

I feel the same way. I don't outline because I always end up getting pulled in a different direction that I initially had in mind.

Davin Malasarn said...

I love it when they do this. It's the ultimate in fun for me. I like the feeling of having to write delicately so as not to disturb the characters' intentions.

Stephanie Thornton said...

It usually takes my characters a good 50 pages before they start to run the show. But I try to keep them in line. Sometimes.

Melissa said...

My characters are so crazy that I have, literally, hundreds of alternate universes in my head. Fun, I know.

Lynda Young said...

My characters are everything to the plot. They are what drives the story forward, so I HAVE to listen to them or I ruin the plot!

W.I.P. It: A Writer's Journey

Words A Day said...

The revelation for me after writing my first draft was how much work really goes into a novel - thats when I realised though I thought I was nearly finished, I'd only gotten half way! The voice of a deceased character now wants a say so -it sometimes makes me wish I was a plotter instead of a.... whatever I am!