Tuesday, July 12, 2016

When Characters Misbehave

I’m not talking about when characters behave badly. That’s actually a good thing because it creates tension and moves the story along. I’m talking about characters and how they don’t always behave the way the writer expects or wants. This happens a lot in my writing, and it’s part of the fun—like putting two bugs in a jar, shake, and see what happens. I love allowing my characters the freedom to interact and behave in a natural, organic kind of way, but when I’m 95% done with the first draft—this is no time for characters to exert their free will! This is what has happened in Portrait of a Girl Adrift.

No matter how I tried to cajole them, they would not do or say what I expected. One in particular revealed more depth than I gave him credit for, which is kind of cool. And then another character brought up an issue I had failed to address. Which equals more words. Not a huge deal—I do want my characters to act ‘in character,’ but with the added scenes—I’ve already exceeded 100k words in the first draft (much of which is bare bones dialogue and so it’s not as if I can cut a lot of fluff, there simply isn’t any!) —I’m looking at one thick book!

Granted, 100+k words is not a tome, so I’m not panicking, after all, my other novels come in somewhere in the 90+k words. I’m now in the process of justifying the added wordage on account of Adrift being the final volume in the Portraits trilogy. Therefore, it seems to me that readers who have followed the story thus far would like the major loose ends all tied up and won’t mind reading an extra chapter or two that will, in essence, allow my reader to say goodbye to the characters with a less abrupt ending. That’s what I’m thinking anyway. I wonder how my blog readers--those who’ve read a series—how they feel about the last book and the way the author chose to wind things down. Any thoughts?