Dec 7, 2011 - Uncategorized    No Comments

Can characters act on their own?

Characters acting on their own.

Most people who have read a book about characterization have heard phrases like, “Once you let your characters free, they will surprise you with the things they do,” or something like, “My characters took over the story and it went in a place I never meant it to go.”

Really?  Can that happen?

Well, maybe, I suppose.

Stories, or to be more specific plot, develops from the mix of character, setting, and situations (what is happening around them, the history/back story, and their relationships).  For example, The Odyssey is a story that grows out of Odyseus’ personality, the setting of the Ancient Mediterranean, and the situation (returning from the war, the problems in Ithaca, his crew’s desires).

It depends on the writer, but I think what is happening here is that the writer didn’t really know his or her character that well, or perhaps found new depth to the character that expressed itself in the revision, or as they wrote.

That is fine, of course.  Everyone writes differently.  I tend to have a rough idea of story in mind, but at the same time, I have already envisioned the characters for this story.  Which comes first, the character or the story?

I don’t know.  In the story I am working on now, the battle of two characters, the pair act in response to each other and their setting.

So can characters act on their own?  Maybe.  If they seem to do so, well, may be we are doing something right.


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