I love being a writer. It’s about as close as a human being can get to understanding what it must be like to be God. You create this beautiful world and these amazing characters with a purpose and a plan in mind. Then you introduce your characters into that world and you say to them, “Enjoy it. Just behave according to the rules I gave you, okay?”
But they don’t
Of course, then your characters refuse to behave. They do the unexpected. They insist on breaking the rules. They do things you didn’t want them to do. And you tense up, because this isn’t going according to your plan. You try to corral them into following the carefully constructed plan you designed for them, but they aren’t having it. They want to do things their way.
What should a writer do?
At this point, you begin scratching your head. What should you do? Your writing may stop, and you may find yourself encountering writer’s block. You may be tempted to put the story away, or you may even think you’re doing something wrong. Let me reassure you that if you have gotten to this point in your writing you are doing everything right.
Let them live. Let them surprise you. Let them do everything you never wanted them to do and then some. Yes, it means they will ruin your beautifully crafted plans. Yes, it means you will have to do work to keep up with them. However, it will make the story you tell so much better because if you didn’t anticipate this, neither will your readers. You will surprise and delight your readers at every turn, and that’s going to keep them wanting to read more.
Your characters have come alive!
Your characters are doing what every author dreams they will do. They are acting like living beings! They are thinking for themselves, making decisions without consulting you, and getting a voice that is all their own. It’s frustrating, but it’s beautiful, too.
Get out of their way
Don’t be an obstacle to your characters. Let them lead, let them decide, let them do what they want to do. Trying to force them to follow your plan will only result in a story that feels forced if it gets finished at all. Characters who don’t feel their voice is appreciated will shut down and stop speaking to you, and you will find yourself facing a major case of writer’s block because your inspiration will dry up.
Remember, it’s not your story
You start writing with the thought that this is your story, but it’s not. It’s their story, you just happen to be the one they picked to tell it for them. You have the pen, but it’s their lives you’re writing. They have a right to be heard and to tell the story the way they want it to be told.