When Characters Have Had Enough #writing #storyarc #writingtips

Between a rock and a hard place.

I’m finishing up TOUCHED BY FATE before sending it off to be polished and prettied for consumption, and as this is my sixth book, you would think I’d know better than to try to force my characters to do what I want, right?

*sigh* Okay, so I’m a slow learner.

I’ve mentioned I’m not much of an outliner, which is mostly true. I use signposts, big, obvious ones that state “They shall walk in on a bloody corpse here” or “They must be ambushed here”. So what happens when my characters don’t agree with my signposts? When they decide to redesign it in their own, personal graffiti?

Stubborn writer meet even more pig headed characters. *sound of boulders colliding*

I had the last third of the story figured, main points at least. I even started this book saying the seer will see her death at the hands of her lover. I shall never again presume to know what my characters will or will not see/do/say. Risia took issue with this, and when I didn’t listen, she decided to make me listen.

First, the story kept stalling. The scenes weren’t working. It was too stilted, too contrived, and I was getting downright pissed. I finally had time to dedicate to pounding out some serious word count and THE WORDS WOULDN’T COME. What the hell is up with that? Then, she kept twisting things around until I was sure she’d see her death at my hands.

I slammed around, throwing things at both Risia and Tag, determined to get them where I needed them to be. Risia smirked, and Tag kept ducking while muttering, “WTF?” When my temper tantrum died down, I realized a new player had hit the pages, with his own agenda, and his own way of ensuring he got what he wanted.

And my idea of one of the bigger stumbling blocks for Tag and Risia, shifted under all of our feet, turning over to show a different outcome. Funny thing, suddenly the remaining path of our story readjusted into a clear road, and I’m able to gun the gas without puttering to a stop.

So what happened? Somewhere along the writing line I forgot to stay true to letting my characters tell the story, versus making them fit the story. Our job as the writer, is to ensure we throw our characters into situations where they will either rise and shine, or go down in a flaming ball of glory, because their evolution is vital to our story. There is no getting around that. If your characters don’t evolve, if they don’t take chances or risks, they can’t fail, can’t triumph, can’t learn, can’t grow. Which means they might as well be Flat Stanley’s.

For Tag and Risia’s story, I needed to put Risia in an unenviable position, you know the one, the fabled Rock and Hard Place. By doing this in a natural way that rises from her current situation versus creating an artificial one, she ends up dragging Tag into his own Rock and Hard Place. Now, they have to figure out their escape routes–whether individually or in tandem, that’s where your story gets interesting. Which is why you really should let your character led. They know what it will take to push them over the edge or drop them into the deepest pit, and they know what they need to do, to become who they must.


And Tag and Risia, well, they may not like me right now, but I know the destination will be worth the ride.

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