Alright, so time for a rather amusing story that is a normal experience for many writers.
I was cheerfully going along, writing my fourth book. I knew where I wanted it to go and what I wanted to happen next and everything was going just fine. Until Caspian decided to get involved, that is.
Caspian* is a cat character in my series, brother to my main character, Mozart. He is brave, bold, outspoken, inventive, and most of all, mischievous. He decided, all on his own, that he wanted to have an extra set of scenes in my book, an extra couple chapters I did not plan on writing. And why did he decide this? To highlight himself, of course. He wanted a chance to confront the main villain, so he got himself captured and dragged his sister-in-law along with him.
Let me stress that I never planned any of this. Caspian, a vibrant character in my stories, decided that the plot needed to have an addition, and took it upon himself to make sure it happened. And he is not the least bit sorry about it either, in case you wondered (well, he’s sorry he dragged his sister-in-law into the adventure, but he’s not at all sorry for dragging me along).
Did the story suffer from this addition? No. Was the flow of the narrative interrupted? Not at all. Was it a very interesting little side story that emphasized facets of the characters that I might not have been able to show clearly before? Yes it was.
My point with this amusing little illustration is twofold: First, it’s very likely that if you have interesting, lively characters, that they’re going to develop minds of their own and run off with your story- and that’s okay. Lots of authors (I’d say most) have this happen. If you don’t believe me when I say that a character I made up could actually steal my story, then keep writing, your characters will probably do it someday too.
Second, sometimes your characters know more about where the story needs to go than you as the author do, and that’s okay too. Go with your characters, listen to them, indulge them in their side plots. Maybe it won’t flow or fit into the story as well as Caspian’s idea did, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use your character’s ideas in other adventures or at other points in the story. And besides, it can be fun to be taken off on an unexpected journey by one of your characters! You get swept off your feet and feel a little confused, but also excited, because you’re not entirely sure where the words you’re writing down are coming from, but you’re eager to see where they take you.
*Caspian’s picture is the featured image
P.S. The book my class and I have been writing short stories for called, “The Oddities of Room 34” will be up on Amazon in just a few days! If you like what you’ve been reading from me, be sure to check it out.