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Guest blogger: Bisbet on Letting go of your characters

 Hello there! Still cripple, though I’m trying out this new dictation software. It works pretty well. But I’m still taking a break. Today we have lovely Bisbet writing about characters. Hope you enjoy! And feel free to comment.

~Linnea


One of the most wonderful things about writing is that there is always the potential to be surprised. Although you’re technically in control of the fates of your characters, they still have a mind of their own.

 When it comes to planning my stories I always have a rough outline for the overall plot: a beginning, a middle, and an end, with a few key events thrown in for good measure. Also, I’m scrupulous when it comes to world building, making sure I’ve carefully considered every element of my imaginary universe.

With these foundations put in place, I then set forth in creating and developing my characters. A little background established, a few personality traits refined, and then I set them loose upon the world.

I’m a strong believer in letting your characters tell the story for you. Let them develop and grow at a natural pace; if you rush them just to meet your next chapter targets, then the narrative is going to feel forced to the reader.

I’ve read too many books that have had characters make decisions that are completely awry from what they would really do if they were left to their own devices.

Sure, people do make decisions that are the polar opposite to their usual behaviour. A quiet introvert may make a spur of the moment decision to go out clubbing, and a world-renowned violinist could perhaps lay down her bow one last time whilst stating, “eh, I can’t be bothered anymore”.

However, actions like this are pretty unusual and most likely have some pressing motivations behind them. Therefore, if you want to make your character go against the grain of their personality, you need to have an expertly crafted set up, or it’s going to jar with the flow of the narrative.

That’s why I let my characters, for the most part, do what they want. Although they are a figure of my imagination and will do whatever I tell them to do, I will never force something that doesn’t feel right. This strategy leaves the plot to flourish organically, and besides – the fat can be trimmed in the editing stage.

Don’t be afraid to let your characters forge their own paths. Who knows, it might lead to a more interesting story! An unusual romance, a sudden death, an exciting plot twist… all sorts of wonderful things can happen in the world of literature when you let your perfectly constructed world thrive independently.

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