When your characters have a plan, but you don’t know what it is…

“I think I have a plan,” Character A said. 

But I didn’t know what his plan was. That’s where I got stumped this morning during my writing time. When I typed those words, I knew it was true for Character A  to have a plan in his mind. He’s a smart guy after all. He figures things out. He’s good at solving puzzles. But I’m not. For a few moments, I sat scratching my head and staring off into space–afraid that Character A’s plan would derail my writing session today, because I didn’t know what his plan was!

I stared at the Sailor Moon wall scroll next to my desk. I watched my rats snuggle in their house. I stared at the carpet. I listened to the “Skyrim OST” on my iTunes. Then, finally, it hit–his plan! I started typing as fast as my fingers could go, afraid I’d forget the snippets of Character A’s plan that had come to my feeble mind. Thus, the writing continued quite smoothly until I’d written over my daily 2,000 word goal. *Whew*. We made it to the other side of Character A’s plan.

Isn’t it awkward when your characters know more about what’s going on in a story than you do? After all, didn’t you design your characters? Didn’t they come from your head to begin with? How is it possible, you might ask, for a character to have a plan and you not know what it is?

That’s a hard question to answer. As I’ve written here before, I truly feel like stories are already created and complete before you start unearthing the words that go with them. That’s why I maintain that Character A had a plan and it was a good one–I just didn’t quite see it yet.

How do we discover the plans our characters have? I don’t always know. Sometimes I have to rewrite. Perhaps I didn’t get the story quite right on the first go-round. Other times, like this morning, I’m able to somehow pull all the strings together and figure it out with grand “Aha!” moments. It’s still hard, though, and if you’re not careful, being out of sync with your characters can unravel a whole scene or chapter.

My advice? Don’t rewrite until you’re absolutely sure you can’t reconcile a character’s words or action with what needs to happen next. In some cases, you may need to step away for a while. Go write something else. Take a break, then come back and see if you can go on. If you can’t, chances are you might need to rework the dialogue or an entire scene. Other times, you have an epiphany and can get right back to work without rewriting; you’ve figured it out! Woohoo!

Writing is harder than most people think. Even for those people out there that have natural talent, writing is a skill that must  be nurtured and flexed as often as can be managed. For me, the hardest part about writing is plotting. Characters come very naturally to me, for some reason, but plotting? Nope. Especially since I’m mostly a pantser, writing a detailed, complex, and connecting plot can be a great challenge. Hence the reason Character A can have some grand plan in mind but my poor brain is stuck trying to figure out what it is…

Do you have any particular writing areas that you struggle with? Share with us and tell us how you go about correcting or exercising that area.

Thanks for stopping by, as always!



About Me · Observations · Writing

Things are Clicking…

I just had a GREAT morning writing session! It was one of those where you say to yourself, “Oh, no! Don’t stop!” But life must continue and I have to get my Maiedae work done and more editing done on the novel I’m prepping for publishing in the fall. Perhaps if I get it all done, I’ll creep back into my current manuscript this afternoon.

I love days like this. Things were really clicking in my writing and stuff was HAPPENING! I am a very long-winded writer and usually have to cut lots of useless scenes from my novels. Today, though, I wrote scenes that are irreplaceable and are definitely going to stay in the final version. That makes me excited. I know most of us have to cut anywhere from a third to half of what we write, but it is always thrilling when you’ve written something in your first draft and can say to yourself, “Yep. That one’s here to stay, no matter what.”

What are you guys up to? Anyone writing manuscripts right now? Prepping manuscripts for publishing? I’d love to hear what sorts of things you guys are working on. 

Have a happy Wednesday! Keep on writing!