When Good Characters Go Bad. And Vice-Versa.

If characters come from my own subconscious, why won’t they do what I tell them to?

I’d planned for two of my characters, after years of close friendship before the story begins, to fall in love after a healthy and confusing dose of lust.  Instead, they looked at each other, screamed Incest! and refused to play. 

Apparently, she’s in love with someone else—someone who had a small supporting role before making himself indispensible, for reasons which are obvious now—and he’s still stuck on his poisonous ex-girlfriend, though to his credit, he’s trying very hard to get unstuck.   The poisonous ex-girlfriend just wants to be loved, though her definition of that is just a tad skewed.

This isn’t a romance, by the way.  This is a mystery.  Especially, as it turns out, to me.

There was another character who wasn’t even suppose to make it on-page, except as a corpse.  But he was the only way to get certain information to the MCs, without it being a Citizen Kane Rosebud Moment* or rewriting the entire thing. 

Okay, so that one was a miscalculation on my part.

So I reluctantly let him live until I could arrange a nice, tidy murder . . . and now he’s one of my First Reader’s favorite characters.  She seems to think that killing him would be going too far for the readers.    However much I grumble, she’s usually right . . .

But I’m keeping an eye on him . . . and the woman who is starting to interest him and is busy making herself a main character, too.    There are fates worse than death, and ticking off a writer may be one of them.

Divert my plotline, will they?

But as much as I hate to admit it, all these shenanigans seem to be making the story better.  I like the dynamics among the characters, and the bad guys are developing into real, if unlikable, people.

Guess my subconscious knows better than I do, which is not a comforting thought—there’s some scary stuff in there.  As long as there’s a decent story in there, I’ll play along . . .   but I will have my murder, by hook or by crook. 

Or by a crook with a hook.

Hey, now . . .


*As in, if Kane died alone, how did anyone know his last word was ‘Rosebud’?   And while Orson Welles and Herman J. Mankiewicz could get away with a plot hole like that in a script, books are different—and so am I.


2 thoughts on “When Good Characters Go Bad. And Vice-Versa.

  1. Ha! I COUNT on my characters picking up and doing their own thing — otherwise I’d be left with a whole stack of boring most of the time. Best of luck~

    • Thanks—and you’re right. I’d rather have difficult than boring!

      Writing seems to be awfully close to parenthood—my kids don’t listen to me much either.

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