Are Your Characters Stealing the Show?

imagesyf49r9sdSo I’ve finished my first draft and am officially in the revision phase. From everything I’ve read, I need to step away from my work for a month or so. That’s really hard for me since this novel has taken up the majority of my waking hours over the last year.

I know my major weaknesses are Character Development and Description, so I thought I would take this time to research and learn as much as I can prior to picking up my manuscript and beginning the arduous process of revision. While I think it will be fun in a way, I have no doubt it will offer challenges as well.

When I started writing, I had a great premise and even though I didn’t do a character arc, I had a really good feel for my characters, and how I thought they should look and act. Once I started writing, I found my characters were taking on a life of there on. I know that sounds crazy, but if you’ve ever written a novel, you know exactly what I mean.

It’s like they came alive, and were leading me in the direction they wanted me to go. Some of my characters changed considerably. I must confess, I didn’t stop them. I kept writing and let things play out to the end.

What I discovered was some of the changes were good and some were not so good. I will be taking a closer look at my characters during my revision and try to figure out what worked and what didn’t for each of them.

During this process, I need to remind myself that characters are not sacred. If I need to sacrifice a character to save my story that’s okay. I can’t allow them to run the show.

This leaves me with three options:

  1. Make my characters play the role they were meant to play.
  2. Fire the ones that aren’t working and create new ones to take their place.
  3. Let the misguided characters continue to ruin my story.

I’m not sure if a character outline would have helped or not. They went from being the people I planned, to the people they wanted to be.

What do you think?

-Jan R


Are Your Characters Stealing the Show?

4 thoughts on “Are Your Characters Stealing the Show?

  1. Congrats on your novel! That’s awesome to get something finished in general, so kudos to you. And revisions are a pain in the butt, but they’re definitely important. I hope you have luck with it!

    I think it’s pretty typical for characters to change on their own. And sometimes that’s great and like you said, sometimes not. I think doing some not-included-in-the-actual-book scenes can help with that, so you can figure out who your characters are before diving in. Look for prompts and take some times to write out scenes with your characters for these prompts. How would they react? How would they sound? Does some of their background stuff come out? That way they can evolve in a way that doesn’t necessarily wreck your story. Then you can go through and pick what you like and don’t like. I don’t know if you need a character outline, but having a few notes on them in the margins, so to speak, can be helpful. That way you at least have a reference sheet.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is great advice. It’s always fun to see characters who radically change. I had one who started out as a background characters, but then suddenly became a more stronger player. Took me by surprise!


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