Monday, August 11, 2008

Who Saw That One Coming?

Some things don't go according to plan. Just ask the French Men's 4 x 100 Relay Team. See, they were supposed to win. Everyone knew they were going to win. They knew it. The commentators knew it. The Press knew it--partly because the French team had been talking smack, like how they were going to "smash the Americans", their next closest competitors. Evidentally Jason Lezak didn't know this because he swam the race of his life, shattering the world record and catching the French team on the last lap. It was a staggering performance that left the Water Cube rocking and Michael Phelps with an uncharacteristic display of joy as the Americans cheered their unlikely win. The French team stood around looking stunned as they had been slapped by the Clue-By-Four of Life.

That's why they actually have the race and don't just hand out medals based on who is supposed to win. The best laid plans yadda yadda yadda. Writing is like this too. (You just knew I would get to that, didn't you?)

My characters aren't behaving. Understand that I'm not one of those nuts who draws pictures of her muse and holds conversations with her imaginary characters. Nope. I'm a believer in the writer being in control of the story, but I'm telling you that these stupid characters won't mind me at all. I've threatened and cajoled and spanked them all and sent them to bed with no supper and they still refuse to mind me, the willful things!

I had it all set up for my villian, with red-herring villians sprinkled along the way. Who is the baddie? The handsome spoiled prince or his equally handsome spoiled brother (and the heir to the throne)? Gah! Why won't the rotten spoiled princes behave? First, the heir to the throne refuses to be handsome and impressive. He's a nerd. He can't sit a horse. He has a weak chin and beady eyes. He runs away to hide when the hunting party is attacked. FAIL! He's going to make a terrible ruler, but he's not the bad guy and if I'm being perfectly honest, the little twerp has grown on me.

Yep, Daedan is a twerp, but at least Rhon is being handsome. He would make an impressive ruler. He's tall and behaves nobly in a fight. He's brave, but impetuous. We have a winner. Yippee. Too bad that he's stupid and I'm going to have to kill him.

I can make it work. I can. I think. Not quite the clash of the titans I had hoped for with Prince Nerd and Prince Bonehead. How about you? Are your character playing well with others or snorting milk at the lunch table? Are they memorizing their times tables or shooting spit wads?

You don't always get what you want. (Thank you, Rolling Stones!) But if you try, you might get what you need.


Kim said...

Best post I've read today! Yes - the characters in one WIP are not being bad. The villain is too villainy and I want him to be kind of a surprise villain, so I have to reign him in a bit. To punish them, I've locked them in a tiny, dark drawer until further notice.

The hero of another WIP must have seen the drawer-ing, he's behaving.

And did the mens' 4x100 relay team totally rock or what??? =)

Mary B said...

Oooh, the dark drawer of shame. I may need to try that.

And the relay team totally rocked as did the gymnastics team. I love seeing them so excited!

Average Jane said...

My characters never behave and when I try and make them my word count stops dead. I can't write a single thing that isn't lame or sounds stilted. So I throw up my hands.. let them do what they want and after I've written it, if I don't like it, I cut it and start over. They tend to be more malleable afterwards, guess they worked it out of their systems. Mostly I find I keep what I originally wrote for the most part. On occasion a chapter will get cut but I save it for fodder later. LOL

And there's nothing wrong with drawing your muse.. ROFL I have a total crush on one of my characters that ended up being a main character when he was supposed to be a supporting bit part character. I totally drew him.. LOL

Mary B said...

Ah, but you are an artist, LD! You can draw your muse if you want, but no one else.