Living Stories

I once read somewhere that some author’s worst challenge is fighting their own characters for control of the story.  As the author writes, the characters tend to take on a life of their own, which can end up changing major plot points.

One example of this(though it shares equal blame with one of his planned plotlines getting moved up) happened in David Weber’s Honorverse books.  At once point in the series, the titular character Honor Harrington was supposed to die in a naval battle.  The story then would have picked up with her children a ways further on in the timeline.  However, when he got to writing that book, he realized that his original plans didn’t fit anymore(not to mention a short story that had come out not too long back had accellerated one of the plots her children were supposed to address) and so she still lives on.

I’m currently in the middle of doing some writing myself, and I’m finding the same thing happening.  In this case I started with a general idea of where I was starting and where it would finish, with the middle mostly nebulous.  I also originally intended for it to be a single stand-alone piece.

As I started writing however, events that I originally hadn’t planned started happening, because it’s what the character would have done.  One part became two, and now I’m thinking it may go for several parts.  Heck, I started the second part with one plotline in mind, but it decided to take a wide swerve to the right and the major event I had planned for it got shelved for an entirely different, but related, one.

When I realized this today, I went back and thought about the previous short series I had written, and the ones I’d started but lost motivation and interest on.  Pretty much almost every series that went to a conclusion(planned or otherwise) are ones where the character came in, kicked me in the shin, and said “Do this.”  In fact, thinking about it now and ignoring the nature of the content, pretty much everything I’ve enjoyed writing has been fairly character-driven rather than plot driven.  The ones I had grand plot plans for but not as good a grasp on characters, such as the story of the mismatched Spelljammer crew, petered out pretty quickly.

The current story I’m writing has a in-universe time limit, and at this point it’s already a few days into the two weeks the whole thing will take place in.I’m not sure how many parts I’m going to end up with yet, but at this point I have to admit I’m probably just as curious as any prospective readers on where this is going to go next.

Speaking of readers, I had been planning to sit on it until I completed it just to make sure I don’t leave any half-finished series floating around.  I hate it when that happens(especially with series I like, such as the “My tutor had six tails” or whatever that series was called).  Now that I’ve figured out what’s driving my writing though, I’m thinking of posting each part once I have the following part completed.  That way it’s still out there, and at the same time I know there’ll be a next part until its done.

I’ve also been asked before to write more about a couple characters here and there from one-shots I’ve written.  I’ve never felt any desire to continue in those cases, and I think that’s why:  their stories are told, and the rest…. is silence.

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