You’re not supposed to be self-willed!

Do you ever feel like you just completely lose control of your characters, and they go off and do whatever the heck they want? Sometimes this has turned out to be a good thing for me; one of the main subplots in my book came from a rather lowly character who suddenly decided to develop a personality.

But the last couple of chapters I’ve been writing have been like reining in a team of wild horses. I know exactly where these two characters need to get at the end of the chapter, but they keep getting sidetracked, or other characters jump in with problems to be raised, developed, and solved, and I sit and stare as my flawlessly planned storyline goes floating away down the river. Who knew that completely fictional characters could be so maddeningly self-motivated?

Anyone else have this problem? Or am I just a little crazy?



  1. You’re not crazy. And this is not a “problem” to a “pantser” writer, like me. In my part of the Parallel Universe, this is inspiration, and is celebrated! It means that my characters have come to life, and like Pinocchio, Skin Horse and Velveteen Rabbit, they have become Real.

    You’ve already had positive experiences with this phenomenon. Relax and let them take you places you didn’t expect to go. They were born in your subconscious, so although you may shed tears over their peccadilloes, they won’t let you get hurt. It is, after all, their story. Let them tell it. You just look, listen and write it down. Trust them. Someday it will all make sense, and you will know what to do with it. That’s life – on our planet, as well as in the Parallel Universe….

  2. Every novel I’ve ever written (& am currently writing) suffers this affliction. The great thing about is that it makes it an interesting read and only adds complexity and realism to the plot. The downside means to the end it’s time to edit and cut ten thousand words or so. To be honest, I can’t think of writing a book any other way.

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