Nathan Bransford, TVWriter™’s favorite publishing know-it-all, has an important lesson about characterization for all of us who spend our days writing fiction of any kind.
by Nathan Bransford
Nearly everyone who has written a novel has had the experience of writing an unruly character who suddenly takes the story in a different direction than you anticipated. Even the best outline can quickly go up in smoke.
This is a good sign! It means you’re listening to the internal logic of the character and you’re adjusting accordingly.
At the same time, it’s risky to lose control of a character and let them run away with your novel. You might fall in love with a minor character a little too hard, or halfway through the book you might start writing a different novel than the one you started.
Here’s some advice for walking that fine line between being true to a character and letting them run roughshod over your novel.
Look carefully at the moment the character broke free
Chances are there’s a particular moment where a character will bounce out of the frame you’d put them in. Stop for a sec and think about what really happened there.
Ask yourself some questions:
- Is the plotline you were envisioning not true to the character?
- Did you make an important discovery about the character that needs to be woven through the rest of the novel?
- Is this the real beginning of the story?
- Did you just find the real voice of the novel?
- Did the character suddenly become active and before they were too passive?
And perhaps most importantly, ask yourself….
Need help with your book? Nathan is available for manuscript edits, query critiques, and coaching!
And if you like this post: subscribe to Nathan’s newsletter!