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?


  1. I agree with you. Series readers like to have the entire series wrapped up. Ambiguous endings make readers to throw things. Not a good sign.

    And 100+K is really not a deal breaker when the characters are as engaging and the prose is as magnificent as yours. I'm looking forward to it. And the new cover.

  2. Not sure about the prose yet--maybe too much navel gazing. And I was going to employ something a little ambiguous by way of an epilogue, but I'll pass it by you first. I'm just about done with the first draft, coming in at 108k. I can't wait for you to read it so I can move on to phase two. And I am not looking forward to working on the cover. I'm afraid I've painted myself into a corner with this one--gotta keep the same tone throughout. It's gonna be tricky, for sure!

  3. I don't know much about miss-behaving, but I look forward to the new book...reckon?

    1. Well, I hope it'll meet your 'amazing' expectations!