So You Think You Can NaNo: Surprises

If you’re writing for the first time during National Novel Writing Madness Month, you might encounter a phenomenon that really throws you.
You’re humming along, very proud of your word count (really, that shouldn’t be your goal, but anywho), and bam! Brick wall. A character will not cooperate. Let’s call him Joe. Joe isn’t your hero. Maybe he’s your hero or heroine’s best friend. Maybe he’s the villian. You’ve written a scene where Joe goes clubbing with you hero. And it’s just not working. What the hell is wrong with Joe? Why is that scene so awful? He simply doesn’t want to pick up the gorgeous redhead at the bar.
You hit the wall because you’re not listening to Joe. He’s being trying to tell you something for pages. He’s gay. Okay, now go back and take a good look at him. Yep, he’s gay.
The writing trick? Don’t fight it. If Joe is gay, have him meet a nice hunky fella and move on. If you don’t want the hero’s best friend to be gay, write a new one.
It sounds nuts, I know. You control your characters. Well, most of the time. But there are pesky characters who speak to you. You birthed them, but then they took off on their own. I can’t explain it, but if you have a few books under your belt, I bet you know what I’m talking about.
I really believe that the best characters speak to you. Hell, my heroine just told me she’s a mermaid, and I’m in chapter 3. WTF? She just dropped that she had to live near water. Now, I can go back and delete that nonsense, or I can see where it leads me.
Don’t fight your characters. They aren’t the uncooperative ones, you are. Go with the flow.

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4 thoughts on “So You Think You Can NaNo: Surprises

  1. Okay…I’m getting what you are saying… but what if it’s a part of the plot that gets you stuck? I need a crisis for my female main character. I think I came up with one, but it’s not sitting right with me…it’s okay, but I’m not sure and I still feel kind of stuck. So, I’m wondering if I just keep writing it and see what happens? Actually, I did let my characters lead me and then I ended up with two good guys instead of one bad and one good, then I needed a antagonist…silly me.

  2. ciarcullen says:

    Ah, well that’s another post. Plots are hard if you haven’t charted it out to begin with. “Needing a crisis” is a problem. It depends on what kind of book you’re writing. Is the crisis in the relationship (if it’s a romance) or in the plot (action)? If it’s in the relationship, it shouldn’t come from the outside–it should be the internal motivations and deficiencies of the characters. If from the outside (like, the Wizard turns her into stone), then you have to STOP, take time to figure out what your plot is, and then go on.
    As for your two good guys–people who aren’t ALL good or ALL bad are the most interesting, aren’t they? And the most realistic. So your antagonist doesn’t have to be a swine…

  3. I thought I had a plot but as I get into it I felt like it needed more of a supernatural element than I was giving it. Maybe I’m trying to force it and that’s why it’s not working. The two men have been 20 for 40o years and the short explanation is my main character has to choose between them to end a blood feud. I kept thinking I had to add an “evil element” to make it more interesting. I was rolling along and then I got stuck in quick sand as soon as I tried to add that. After reading your post today I’m wondering if I need to “listen” better:)

  4. anny cook says:

    Oh, hell yeah, my characters talk to me. They run off into the woods and do strange things with even stranger animals and aliens…

    I loved your illustration. It was perfect. Hope you’re having a good week, Ciar!

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