After reading Shannon Messenger’s post today about Trusting the Path, I felt as if I wasn’t completely alone. This week has been incredible writing-wise. I broke through my writers block YAY. But what happened when I broke through came totally out of left field. My MC defied me. The nerve of her, right?
When I sat down and plotted out my new book, Storybook High (working title) I had a plan. I had three acts mapped out and a game plan. I knew it. This would happen, then this, then this, etc. I was writing fine, hammering out chapter by chapter by chapter and then somewhere around the midway point, my mind went blank. I knew where I wanted to go but I had no clue how to get there.
So after a week of nothing, I sat down and forced myself to break through and let Norah do what she wanted. And BAM writers block gone. But as it happened, what Norah wanted wasn’t what I wanted. She had her old plan, her own feelings and I couldn’t force her feelings in the direction I wanted. I know some people might not get this, they’d say—“Well, you’re the writer, do whatever you want.”—but it SO doesn’t work like that. That’s like saying I can force my husband to like curry because I want him too. Yeah, no.
By time I *really* realized her defiance, it was too late. I ran over to my writing girls and was freaking out…because I didn’t know what to do. I had a plan!!!!! But they all told me to go with it, just see where she takes me. I did. I am. And let me tell you, she is taking me to some really crazy places now and I’ve never been so flipping energized before!! I know there are way too many exclamation points in this post but I’m excited and nervous and biting my nails as I write every word now because I’m no longer in control, she is.
I guess that’s the difference between forcing a character to do something and letting them make their own decisions. I guess what I’m saying now, writers, is this: sometimes we can plan and plan all we want. We can spend hours in outlines but the real decisions come when the characters are in motion. When the stakes are high and choices have to be made and sometimes they make the wrong ones. Sometimes they go down a different path and sometimes…just sometimes…they kiss boys they shouldn’t.
So, now I have a different plan. It’s still rough and in need of tweaking and flushing out, but I think this plan may be better than the last.
I’ll end with this…let your characters defy you. You might be pleasantly surprised.
P.S, leaving you with this funny rap from Chris August.LOVE IT.