Never Say Never

When most of us start out as writers, part of the appeal is the ability to play God with our characters.  You will do this because I said so! For those of us who began as children, there is, no doubt, a component of defiance because we really hated hearing that from our parents and wanted to control someone else.  But something that becomes readily apparent (at least with every writer I know), is that characters have minds and personalities of their own (if they don’t, they often fall totally flat on paper) and they DON’T always do what we want them to just because we said so.  This is one of the reasons I never write about people I know.  Because then I lose even that modicum of control I possess as an author.

To non-writers this probably sounds a little schizophrenic, but hey, writers are my readers here, so y’all get it, right?

Something else I am starting to learn as a writer is to NEVER SAY NEVER.  Because you just might have to eat those words.  The simple fact is, you just don’t know who will pop up and demand that you tell their story.

Take my Mirus series for example.  I was CONVINCED I was done writing about Gage and Embry from Forsaken By Shadow.  Well, maybe not.  I didn’t think I’d be able to use Orrin and Dahlia’s story and yet, here I find myself with Riven.  I never thought I’d wind up writing about Matthias in more than secondary role, yet he decided to show up in the shower yesterday (not THAT way…God…get your mind out of the gutter!  He stayed outside the shower curtain) to tell me about his agenda.  Well, let me tell you that was a surprise.  I still don’t know if he’ll wind up being hero material, but he’s definitely going to play a bigger role than I expected.

It’s a continually astonishing thing to me how random little lines or details that I throw in a book just for the heck of it, turn out to mean something really significant down the line in a way I never anticipated.  It’s one of the really cool and amazing things about the creative brain–how it’s continually working on things even then it’s not actively focusing on those things.  I’ve come to cherish those Ah ha! moments when all suddenly becomes clear.

Do you have these moments as a writer?  What have you said you’d never do only to have to eat your words?

19 thoughts on “Never Say Never

  1. I have never thought of it in this way, but I must agree…. you’re right!

    A character doesn’t always do what I tell him/her to do…

    And a story rarely turns out the way I had originally planned.

    Great post!

  2. hehe, yeah my twist in Save My Soul, I resisted that FOREVER. But then my story made me its bitch and said… no you will write this. this is the story, bitches! (Cause my story says “bitches”, too.)

  3. I know what you mean about characters having other ideas about what they’re going to do. I killed off one of my characters and he came back with a vegeance to tell me that if I thought his story was over just because he was dead then I was sorely mistaken. Plus, I don’t know about you but I find that the best ideas often come from the bathroom.

    1. It doesn’t apply to me, but I know for my crit partner, it’s the only stretch of true silence she gets when her 6 year old is home. Uninterrupted thinking time!

  4. I have these moments all the time. For example, just a few days ago, I found out that my protag’s dog dies when she saves my protag’s life. I wrote this same book over three times already (before I met Kristen Lamb) and never saw that coming. Thanks for your post.

  5. All. The. Time.

    I’m working on Bloodbonded, and I found myself frustrated with a plot thing because I thought two people had to meet at a certain place at a certain time, and I wasn’t even totally sure why. Then I realized–why am I forcing this? It doesn’t fit either character, it’s too much of a pain in the ass to work out, and if I let Connor do what evolves naturally from his character, it’ll make my life SO MUCH EASIER. Plus, he’s pretty strong-willed. Trying to get him to go anywhere he doesn’t want to go is a major chore. He’s a pain in the ass sometimes. Braedan is much more malleable, but unfortunately, that’s not a good trait in a king. Anyway…

    Yeah, it does sound completely wrong to non-writers. My husband has learned to just nod and smile a lot. 🙂

  6. Yes, I can relate to that. I love those ‘ Halleluyah ‘ moments, I call them, nothing to do with religion…
    I used to worry I was slightly schizo, now I’ve come to understand it’s just the creative juices flowing in me, bursting to come out.

  7. Never say never is important for writing and life. I never said I’d get a kindle and here I am owning one and loving it. My characters have at times presented alternate choices, that I never thought would happen, but the story flowed so much better by following their lead instead of mine.

  8. I said “NEVER!” about my super-bad villian in my first novel ever coming to redemption. Now in the current WIP, I’m eating those words, and they are kinda bitter. 🙂 He’s leading me around my the nose, telling me what he wants done with what remains of his life, and I’m listening because…well, he’s very handsome & charming, that’s why. (Now who sound schizophrenic?!)

    I run dialogue between my characters constantly in little scenes that may never make it into the book. It helps me define my characters’ boundaries, style, verbal acuity, personality, and odd little quirks, as well as how they will interact with each other in the story.

    Reading back over this comment, I sound like a complete loon to anyone outside this field!! Thank God you’re all writers!

  9. I do have those moments. In my latest work, Act of Vengeance, one of my extras turned out to be the Killer! She totally convinced me that SHE was the one who had to do the killing. I had to redirect where the story was going because of her. She’s kind of bossy that way – but I liked her idea and it worked out quite well. I guess that’s what made her so appealing. Also, I have another friend (extra) who’s shown up in two seperate books I’ve written. Her name is Julie Devulge. She’s a reporter and is very insightful. She adds a lot of life and information that keeps my work flowing. I hope she doesn’t mind being typecast! But yeah, I totally get letting the characters take on a life and place of their own. If they’re believable and real, than you can’t stop them…we all have free will…our characters should too!

  10. When my characters ended up in Constantinople, I swore they’d never end up running around the Imperial Palace. They were homebody types, you know, never getting up to hijinks of that sort.
    They sure showed me!

  11. Actually, when I want something to happen, I should say those words aloud: “I would never…” chances are, you’re going to do this. 🙂 The thing is, we tend to eat our words when we say it with the word “I would never…”

    So, as twisted as the logic is, I think we should say “I never…” when we want something:
    “I would never be a billionaire.”
    “I would never make it to the New York Times Bestseller List.”
    “My first published book would never reach the status of either J. K. Rowling’s or Stephenie Meyer’s.”

    Let’s see what happens with my little experiment.

  12. What the heck is up with the shower? I have two characters that continually visit there, too! It must be something in the water. *grins*

    My “The First” series came about because Daniella Rolfe refused to be silent. She demanded her story be told. I’ve figured out that I’m merely a conduit to their voices…can we say “puppet”? And if I don’t listen, they tend to keep me awake until the wee hours of the morning. So, in the shower or in bed? (Sounds kind of dirty, doesn’t it?) *snickers* But man, they are persistent. And here I thought I was the only one.

  13. Sooo true!!! I found out that my characters run the show three drafts later! Since I gave up my “control” my WIP has gotten a lot better and have gotten more of those lovely AHA moments! One thing I do now that I thought I would never do is Outline. I was such a pantser!

  14. I’m a plotter, so I know what’s going to happen ahead of time, but sometimes I get to a scene and my character says, “excuse me, what you’ve got in mind is totally lame. Here’s how I’d do it…” And of course I have to listen to him because he’s smarter than me.

    I totally believe that the subconscious mind is more powerful than the conscious mind.

    Maybe we should start saying “never” about the things we want to happen. Do you suppose the universe will buy into reverse psychology? 🙂

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