Morphing Characters

June 1, 2012

Usually when I start a story I have a pretty good handle on my characters. I know what they want and what they do and what they’re motivation is. Every once in a while in the course of writing I understand each of these things deeper, but they don’t really change on me. Plot points? Yes. Characters? Not so much.

And then I started writing my current WIP. It actually started with just a seed of an idea from a snippet of lyrics from a song. Slowly, over the course of a couple weeks in which I was not writing the WIP, I kept adding to that seed. The typical what-ifs. Expanding the idea until it was ready to be planted.

But in the course of writing the second chapter, something weird happened. My heroine morphed into someone really different than I expected. I started with the idea of a tattooed, colorfully-haired, gun-toting heroine. She’d be tough as nails, of course. A chip on her shoulder. Fighting her way through life.

But that’s not her at all. Oh, she’s still got the tattoo, the colorful hair, the gun, but she’s really more goofy than moody, more light than dark, and aside from the one bad thing in her past, she’s pretty happy.

How did that happen?

No idea, but it reminds me how important it is to be flexible, because I think the conflict and arc of the story are stronger with her this way. I think it makes her more likable (we’ll see what my CP has to say about that, though), and a more realistic happily ever after with my uptight hero. If I was determined she be that grim, dark, tortured woman I first envisioned, I think the story would lose the spark that’s keeping me excited about it.

I don’t know how many times in past WIPs I’ve been so determined for something to be a certain way that I’ve missed out on an even better way. There are endless choices when it comes to writing of any kind so it’s hard sometimes to let in other possibilities, but I think it’s important to keep an open mind.



2 Responses to “Morphing Characters”

  1. My characters have morphed so much that my early “bios” are completely useless. Just in case, I created a folder “old stuff” and put in everything that’s no longer germane. Ya never know. But the morphing has given the characters so much depth that I’m very pleased with them (and with myself!) for not trying to stick to what I first had in mind.

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