Kootenai River in NW Montana, near Canadian Border

Kootenai River in NW Montana, near Canadian Border
photo by Gene Tunick of Eureka, Montana

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tip O'Day #299 - Outta Control!

Guest blogger Edward McKeown on what happens when your characters grab the steering wheel.

Authors take very different approaches to writing characters. I have friends who are excellent authors, but who control their characters like puppet masters. The characters perform the plot as they are directed to do. On the other hand, my writing is full of surprises. I love it that way. Writing is an intensely visual experience for me. My stories play in my head with a nearly cinematic quality. I see the people, places and events. They do not always come to me in sequence but I have faith that there is a complete story. If I continue to pay attention, I’ll eventually see the entire story and write it down. I know it will make sense.

The big surprise for me was how much collaboration takes place between my characters and me. In writing Was Once a Hero, I created Shasti Rainhell as a story device, a way to protect my everyman, Robert Fenaday, as he descended into the world of privateers in search of his missing wife. Shasti, genetically engineered and more powerful than any normal human, was not content with her role. She started telling me about her abusive past, and how fascinated she was with Robert’s love for Lisa and his unreasonable search. I learned that while Robert was searching for Lisa, Shasti was also searching for her humanity. What had started out as an adventure story developed a complex romantic underpinning.

This new character arc became almost as strong as the original main arc. Robert and Shasti followed their separate paths and eventually intertwined in their own affair. I preplanned none of this but it lead to the Fenaday trilogy and a standalone Shasti Rainhell book.

Edward will be back tomorrow with another out-of-control character. To learn more about this author, check out his Amazon.com author page.

1 comment:

  1. Sometimes my characters drive their story and some times my dreams drive the story and sometimes my imagination drives the story.