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:~: Monday, March 26, 2007 :~:

Thrown For A Loop

Last week Edie had a great post on her personal blog about being torn between two books. That's where I am. Torn between the proposal my agent read and thinks I'm working on, and the book I picked up while I was waiting for her feedback on said proposal.

Both are stories I'm destined to write. The second is much darker and more controversial subject matter though, and it's a book I thought for sure I wouldn't write for awhile...down the line, when I was a better writer. For some reason though, it's the one calling to me most strongly now and I can't seem to stop writing it.

We've covered plotting in-depth here before, so I won't bore you with that topic. While I consider myself more a panster than a plotter, I do recognize that I'm a mixture of the two - I plot a lot in my head. I always know where I'm going with a story though I might not know exactly which path will take me to my final destination. With this story, because I'd been thinking about it for so long, I thought I knew my characters front and back - their goals, motivation, what drives them, how they live and breathe. Yet, in the past few weeks, they've thrown me for a complete loop.

This is the first true reunion story I've written. There's a lot of backstory to weave into the book, and because of that, I had to know my characters well before I started writing. All this time I thought my hero was emotionally closed off. The tough guy. The one who wouldn't share his emotions. I thought my heroine was the glue that had kept them together in the past. But the more I write, the more I'm realizing they're opposite what I'd assumed. She's the one who's closed off emotionally. She's the one who can't talk about how she feels. She's the one with the relationship hangups. He's got his own demons, but they aren't what I'd originally planned either.

Each book I write is different from the last. What worked for one - plotting in depth, panstering the whole way - doesn't work for the next. Sometimes surprises pop up as you're writing and you learn things about your characters you didn't know before. That's definitely happening for me this go around.

Have you ever had characters surprise you when you're writing?



Blogger Linda Winfree said...

The WIP. My characters are finally opening up to me, and my heroine has lots of issues (more so than my hero at the beginning of the book).

His issues will come later, because of a life-changing event.

4:12 PM  
Blogger Joan Swan said...

Uh, yeah. I think I was IMing you when my characters took me to Cold Stone to eat ice cream. I've been stuck there ever since.

Last time I let them drive.


9:09 PM  
Blogger Elisabeth Naughton said...

Glad they're finally opening up, Lin. Sometimes it's like peeling the layers off an onion to get to the core of the matter.

9:40 PM  
Blogger Elisabeth Naughton said...

ROFL. I love that Cold Stone thing, J. So did you work it into a scene after all?

9:40 PM  
Blogger Theresa said...


My characters seem to surprise me with every scene. I think its a good sign, though-- when your hero/heroine act opposite of what you expected. It means they have taken on a life of their own, and that they are real to you and reacting with all the flaws and strengths that real people have.

10:06 PM  
Blogger Elisabeth Naughton said...

It means they have taken on a life of their own, and that they are real to you and reacting with all the flaws and strengths that real people have.

Oooh. I love that, T. Makes perfect sense.

10:43 PM  
Blogger Elisa said...

Great topic, Eli.

In the WIP I'm working on now, my hero surprised me. I thought he was pretty stable and happy with his life, but it turns out he's not. He's also *very* resistant to change, so he's a challenge to write.

6:23 AM  
Blogger Elisabeth Naughton said...

Elisa...oh, man. The worst kind of hero. Resistant to change. But really fun when he does eventually make the switch. :) Good luck there.

8:24 AM  
Blogger Edie said...

Eli, a character just surprised me today. I realized she has a weight problem and she bakes cookies all the time since a horrible thing happened to her family.

It's changing my book, but I love it when this happens. When a character surprises me, she's going to surprise the reader too. When I can guess what's happening next in a book, it bores me.

12:20 PM  
Blogger Maggie said...

My characters are constantly surprising me, no matter how well I think I know them on the front end. What really surprises me is that some times a totally NEW character will write themselves in and change the whole structure of the story. I'm left scratching my head wondering "where did you come from?"

8:28 PM  

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