Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Who's In Control?

I've been far away from my WiP for a little while now, but occasionally I think of her. I consider little details I want to add, usually nuances to characters. I also wonder if I'll like her as much when I get her back as I did when I sent her off to my critique buddy.

Lately I've been thinking about her ending. It's different than her original ending.

Different than the second ending, too.

In the third rewrite, my characters decided for themselves how they wanted things to be, and I let them have their way.

Is that okay?

What do you think? Should I have kept strict control of them? Or let them decide for themselves?

How do you handle this in your own projects?


  1. hm... maybe you can pray and let God informs you?
    rereading your poems. should be ready soon. ;)

  2. I tend to listen to my characters to a certain degree. Sometimes they are unreasonable, but often, they make a good point.

    My husband looks at me like I'm a little crazy when I talk about my writing like this! ;-)

  3. I vote, "Let them decide", in my experience it usually comes out better that way ;)

  4. This is tough. I tend to be plot driven because I like neat plot twists and turns, but of course, my characters won't necessarily do those things. So I find that when I give up control and let the characters do what they want, it's more authentic and true. Of course, if I really like a particular plot, I have to change my character to fit the plot. They are inextricably entwined.

    For my first WIP (a historical), I literally had to move the setting 10 years earlier into history and BAM! everything fell into place so much better. Major rewrite. I'm still wrestling with the religion of the antagonist -- and this is why I'm stuck on the third revision and I've put it away. I need to rethink it before another major rewrite. Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians have different worldviews and changing the religion of a major character is not just about substituting prayer rituals ... it changes the character.

    I say, you are the storyteller, see where the characters want to go and whether it's interesting to follow them ... I find most often they almost always lead me to a truer place, one that I didn't know. You can always take control back any time you want. Well, that was one long-winded answer :) What I meant was Catherine said. Hee hee.

  5. I love that you refer to your WIP as a she. They are so real to us aren't they? As for the ending I tend to let my characters off the leash just a little bit. ;)

  6. Dora - Great point. God is the great storyteller; I'll try to learn from the expert. :)

    Teish - That's why we need to be in community with other writers, so we can remind ourselves we're not crazy! :) (or not too crazy)

    Catherine - I think that's true. At least, even if it's not better, it comes out more naturally.

    Vijaya - I don't mind your long, thoughtful answers one bit! But now you have me intrigued about your book!!

    T. Anne - I liked what you said about run-away books in your blog post. We definitely can't let the book run away with us, but a little leeway is healthy, right? A run-away motorcycle is definitely not healthy. LOL! There is a difference. :)


  7. I let my characters decide. I outline my book, but I never outline the climax and final chapter. Maybe it's because I'm not 100% sure how it's going to end. Or maybe I'm just too impatient to start writing the first draft. :)

  8. I did the same, taking quite a break from my wip. I worried about it, then one day I knew why. There was a character who needed to go in a slightly different direction. It took me less than an afternoon to fix it, and now I'm on my way to the finish line.

  9. For me, it depends, but I often listen to them, because the way an ending naturally evolves can be much truer to the story than a forced ending. (However, on the flip side, it can also result in an ending that doesn't work with the novel at all. In that case, I'd try to compromise.)

    Good luck!

  10. I think you should listen to your characters, but Mama knows best? Sometimes characters get carried away, and you have to rein them in (revise). Ultimately, it's your name on the book.

  11. It's tricky, and I'm sure there isn't one right way to handle it. I think we have to be true to our characters, but true to the story as well. Does that make sense? I hope so!

    I like that you sound so open to new ideas so you can make your WIP the best you possibly can. That's great! Also, taking a step back (as you have) may make you a better judge of it when you look at it again. Oh--I mean her. :)

  12. I listen to critique, then 'propose the changes to my characters' and 'see' what happens with the new possibilities. My MC is getting two years younger and that changes EVERYTHING!!! Looking forward to this rewrite.