“Why, the character just took over the story! I had no control at all!”

See: Title of post.Are you really trying to tell me that as a writer you have NO control over your story and you're just a puppet on a string....?

Ha. I must admit I get a little chuckle when I see or hear a writer say this. As if.

I know what they are feeling. I guess I understand what they are trying to express. But they are writers. At our core we are challenged to write about the human condition. I can’t help but wonder if sometimes they don’t get confused with what is happening on the page.

Characters don’t “take over” anything. They certainly are not alive or “have a mind of their own” which is another phrase I often hear.

Have I read stories and novels where it seemed as if the characters were alive? You bet I have. Lots of ‘em. Those are the most memorable stories I have ever read. But I maintain when the writer was writing the story the character in no way “came alive” or “took control” or anything of the sort.

Okay, maybe you are saying I am being too pedantic with all this. But I”m not the one who says this, they are. And they say it like they believe it. Which I find curious.

When I am writing I am always in control. Even when the story takes an unexpected turn or a character does something I had not originally intended him to do. I like when that happens. Heck, I love when that happens. But it’s all me and nothing but me.

I don’t know. It’s almost like they are trying to impart some mystical quality to writing that doesn’t exist, at least not by any quantifiable nature. I have said on this blog I view writing as an organic endeavor. That doesn’t mean I think the story is organic by strict definition of the word. It means I view the process as one of organic creation controlled by the writer. It’s not the character. It’s you and it’s me. Those actions are coming from us as we write. Which, as far as I am concerned, is one more example why we should trust our instincts when it comes to writing.

I just wish they would stop saying it because it’s such a fallacious argument. They are trying to impart some supernatural element to the story that lies outside their control. They are the writer, they are not a puppet on a string. That is just ridiculous.

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6 Comments

  1. K.M., for me, the best and greatest amount of writing happens when my inner self takes over from the more shallow higher cognitive self.

    Reply
  2. I wanted to let you know I have nominated your blog for Versatile Blogger, Please visit here: http://ayearwithhorses.wordpress.com/2012/01/12/touched/ to read why I chose you and to get the directions on what to do next.

    I hope this year is wonderfully blessed.
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    Reply
  3. Clibanarius

     /  January 12, 2012

    Excellent point, ultimately the characters are your creations, and they can’t do anything on their own anymore than a marrionette can dance on its own accord.

    And truth be told having characters that actually started doing things through you because they had some kind of conciousness-

    . . . Actually that could be a very cool (and frightening) story.

    Reply

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