As I've mentioned in past posts, I've done a lot of legwork with this novel in outlining, researching, and other preparations. That's great for keeping me on task with the plot and not staring at blank pages, but it makes it a little frightening when I'm in the midst of following my neat plan and--WHAM!--my headstrong main character says, "Um, excuse me, Mother Author, I can't walk down that tidy little path you paved for me. I know myself better than you do, and I would sooooo not do that." (She sounds so much like my thirteen-year-old daughter.)
"Wait, what?" I reply. "You HAVE to! I've spent weeks figuring out the timeline your story, and this needs to happen right now."
My character rolls her eyes. "Do you seriously think I'm that one-dimensional? I'm. Not. Going. To. Do. It. In this situation, here's what I'd do instead--that and nothing else."
"But. But. You're not supposed to do that for four more chapters! And you're supposed to HATE the villain and kiss your lover boy NOW."
"Listen, Mother Author"--my character pats my tendonitis-stricken hand--"just trust me. Things will be better my way."
I groan. "All right, let's say I do follow your lead..." I feverishly flip through my note card outline. "You realize if you change this here, I'm going to have to go back and fix, like, a bazillion things to streamline the whole manuscript."
"Yeah, and that would mean a TON of revising. That's precious time, my dear character."
She folds her arms and gives me a level stare. "Did you really think you'd have a perfect first draft, Mom?"
I shrug sheepishly, and then throw my hands in the air. "Fine! You win! Are you happy?"
She squeals with delight and gives me a bear hug. "Yes! Thank you! You're the best!"
I huff. "Yeah, yeah."
Does any of this sound familiar? Am I the only one who has these battles with my characters--and lose most of the time?
But perhaps I'm winning...I just don't know it yet. Perhaps when I read my manuscript from beginning to end, I'll shake my head with wonder. Because then I'll realize, "Dang, my character was sooooo right!"