Bossy Characters


So I’m in the shower and my heroine’s ex-husband peeks around the shower curtain while I’m trying to rinse hair dye out of my hair.  I know, awkward, right?  “Not a good time, Brad.” I say.  “I know,” he says.  “It’s just that your portrayal of me in The Novel…it’s just not working for me.  I’m going to the Caymans.  See ya.”

I stood there for a minute, Miss Clairol Espresso hair colouring streaming down me in coffee coloured rivulets, stunned. “Well, thanks for the heads up, buddy.” I mumble.   How could he do this to me?  It would be like Tom Cruise announcing halfway through a film shoot that he’s a bit bored so he’s grabbing Katie & Suri and heading off for points unknown and forward the paycheque…the nerve!

Tom can do what he likes but Brad cannot.    Or, can he?  And more importantly, why shouldn’t I let him? Characters speak to writers all the time.  Mine usually aren’t so bossy or so absolutely determined that they should go this way or that; I’m thinking that this is a very good thing.

I’m going to listen to Brad because I”m approaching this draft of The Novel in a whole new way.  I’m not forcing things like I usually do.  I’m letting things flow.  If Brad, my main character’s pain-in-the-ass ex, wants to jet off to the Cayman Islands, I’m going to let him.  I will follow him there in my mind, spy on him – see what kind of naughty things he’s up to.  I hope he gets in loads and loads of trouble.  At the very least, I hope he gets a sunburn because having Emma’s dog repossessed was really pretty low.

I don’t mind re-writing or tweaking because so far, the vibe has been amazingly good with this draft.  Words are flowing, scenes are shaping, and when something doesn’t feel right, a very helpful character is there to tap me on the shoulder and whisper helpful advice.  I just wish they wouldn’t do it when I’m in the shower.

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