I Do Not Try To Steer My Characters

Are you a spontaneous writer? Or do you plan your novel and characters from before? Do you plan your scenes and plots and incidents in advance? Do you know what your characters will do and think every time they are faced with a situation beforehand? Or do you like to just sit at your desk or computer or laptop and let the events unfold?

When it comes to stories I am not a good planner. My story ideas start from a feeling, an emotion, something that I have heard, or seen, or read and that has me thinking about it long after it happened. And when I sit to write I usually have a clear idea of the beginning and the end. In other words, the first scene and the last scene. For this reason the best part of writing for me is when I sit at my desk and venture out into the unknown.

Fiction is a revelation of the human mind, heart and soul in action. To make a situation, incident or event into a story, it must have some passion, something happening, some tension. You must be willing to get the main character into some bit of trouble, or make him/her face a problem that is not easy to solve. You must invent that stuff. And the only way you can do that is when you sit at your computer and shake yourself up. Don’t take control of the situations and characters. Turn every stone, every emotion and find out what your character’s reaction is going to be while writing. In the words of Ray Bradbury:

“The bottom line here is that I am not the one in control. I do not try to steer my characters; I let them live their lives and speak their truths as quickly as possible. I listen, and write them down.”

The best part for me is when I take the character into the unknown and I go with them and get startled at what they do or say. It’s the importance of being startled by my characters behavior and thoughts that makes writing interesting to me. As the late Ray Bradbury wrote:

“The way I write my novels can best be described as imagining that I’m going into the kitchen to fry a couple of eggs and then find myself cooking up a banquet. Starting with very simple things, they then word-associate themselves with further things until I’m up and running and eager to find out the next surprise, the next hour, the next day or the next week.”


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3 Responses to I Do Not Try To Steer My Characters

  1. Zen A. says:

    I’m like you! I always give my characters free rein, and although they might sometimes cause me trouble, they usually end up pleasantly surprising me. =]

  2. Glad to know that you and I write like the late, great Ray Bradbury, giving our characters free rein. 🙂

  3. Pingback: Can your characters speak to you? | When I Became an Author

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