NOTE: I'm going to attempt to write this post without spoilers for Wide Horizons or anything else, but no promises that I won't slip. I get kind of excited when I talk about writing. :)
November 26, 2015. Somewhere around 4 am. It's the wee hours of Thanksgiving morning, and I've been up all night getting in as many NaNoWriMo words as I can before the Thanksgiving family stuff starts later that morning. I just finished a crucial scene in Wide Horizons (2015's NaNo novel) and am attempting to rest on my laurels for a moment.
And then, things go off the rails.
It wasn't the first time I've lost control of my own fictional characters (Will from Walls did have that moment where he rode, unplanned, into the story and announced he was going to be one of the main characters, and Sam turned Nixie from what was going to be a straight-up retelling of Grimm's "The Nixie of the Mill-Pond" into a story about growing up and childhood friendships), but it was to date the most dramatic, and it sent me reeling.
I didn't set out to make Wide Horizons the story it ended up being, and the characters involved in the story's romantic subplot surprised me. But after I finished throwing my Thanksgiving day hissy fit about "Sibling" usurping the role of romantic interest, getting a good night's sleep, and thinking through the implications of this new direction, I realized that it was going to be all right.
Bill Nye said it was going to be OK, so it must be true!
More than all right, in fact: I had tripped on the perfect way to tie the story's romantic subplot into the series' overarching themes about faith and free will. This was an unexpected revelation for the entire White Stone series, and it has led me to a conclusion I probably should've had years ago.
Losing control of your characters isn't a bad thing. It can be alarming (see above Facebook post), but it can often lead to something you'd never thought about before. After you stop panicking about what the change is going to mean for everything for the rest of forever, you often find the direction the characters are trying to go really is the right one.
(Not always. Pazur from White Stone once thought it'd be a good idea to make a sexual pass at Kalima. That was not the right direction to go, now was it, Pazur?)
(I'm still a little salty about losing the argument I had with him about that scene, and I still like to remind him that I told him so every once in a while.)
So go ahead. Lose control of your characters. It might be the best thing that could happen to your story!
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