One of the more interesting things about fiction writing is when your characters assert themselves, taking your story in a direction you didn’t expect. This has happened to me a few times over the years. Most recently, just this past weekend.
It began simply enough. I’d reached a point in the new book (Redemption, the sequel to Reckoning) where my protagonist was dealing with some difficult decisions and relationship issues. And then, as I was considering them, she said, “Dude, look… if I’m dealing with relationship issues right now, don’t you think there’s a pretty big one hanging over my life?”
Two things stand out about this. The first is that I hate it when she calls me “dude.”
The second is that she was right. This particular relationship (an estrangement) had been casting an ugly shadow for most of her life. It was time to revisit it.
So we did. And… it went okay. Not the way I expected to, but… I liked it. The ugly shadow isn’t gone, but it’s not quite as dark as it was.
But then, while waiting for her flight at the airport, she said, “That went well. Let’s do another.” So there came a random meeting at the airport with a couple important people from her college days.
And that one went well, too. And again, in a way I didn’t expect it to go. For that matter, I never expected to revisit this particular shadow again at all.
Sometimes I wonder who’s writing this stuff.
Of course, I don’t always do what she says. I may change my mind about one or both of these events. Writing is a process, after all. Once you have an idea down, there are revisions, refinements, re-evalutations, and so on.
But when ideas seem to come to you from your characters, rather than your own conscious decision-making… I’ve found it’s usually worth a serious look.