Thursday, 10 January 2013

Your Characters Are Smarter Than You

You may be looking at me thinking something along the lines of “But I created them, stupid.” Before you dismiss me though, hear me out.
That title needs a revision. If you’ve written them well, your characters are smarter than you.
Now, I’m not saying academically. Some of mine certainly aren’t. I’m saying that in their day-to-day life, they’re smarter.
Can’t fill that plot hole? Ask your characters. Don’t know who killed the cat? Ask your characters. No idea who your side character ends up with? Ask her. Even better, ask her suitors. Chances are they’re much more original than you are.
For example, I was having trouble outlining my final scene. Ten-word summary: five socially awkward teenagers are trapped on a deserted island. (Hey, I did it!) The scene I couldn’t write was at the end, where there’s room on a ship for four to leave. I couldn’t decide who stayed.

In my pre-NaNo novel, my main character Tom has an on-and-off girlfriend named Ashlie. She’s the kind of person who doesn’t give a damn about anyone else. She’ll say what she likes, and if you get hurt, she’ll probably laugh. And she loves Tom more than anything.
Tom’s a dick. There’s not really any other way to put it. For any Tropers out there, he’s a Deadpan Snarker and a Jerk With A (very well-concealed) Heart Of Gold. I can’t stand him, but he’s interesting, I guess.

Anyway, Tom and Ashlie have a huge The Reason You Suck-type argument near the end of the novel, leaving Ashlie absolutely heartbroken and Tom… showing signs of regret. Which is weird to see. (This was my characters solving a plot hole for me. Their personalities clashed too much for this not to be inevitable, I just didn’t see it.) Ashlie decides to stay – blame teenage hormones. And Tom… he feels like shit.
So he decides to stay with her.
I think that’s my favourite scene.

Love always,

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