They don’t tell US everything, either.

If you don’t fill in every detail of a character’s background before you start writing the story, those empty spaces may later become filled with details you didn’t expect at all.

This is one of the most enjoyable things about writing fiction.

This is one of the most frightening things about writing fiction.

This is why I won’t be using detailed character creation lists in the future, either.

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My clone gets a lot of his ideas for stories while driving and listening to music. This past Sunday, while on his way home from Clovis (a town about 20 miles from here), he started thinking about how a certain character in his SF novels just didn’t seem to have sufficient motivation for things he’d done recently. Well… Turns out the character was keeping secrets from his author. (I’m shocked! Just imagine a fictional person not telling their author everything from the very start. No author ever has to ask a figment of their own imagination stuff like, “Excuse me, but what do you intend to do with all those firearms?” *shakes head* Um. Yeah, that was a bit of sarcasm there, among other things.) The character was also keeping secrets from one or two other major characters, and that doesn’t surprise me, either. Why should fictional people be any different from the rest of us? ‘Sides, I do love dramatic irony…

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About Thomas Weaver

I’m a writer and editor who got into professional editing almost by accident years ago when a friend from university needed someone to copyedit his screenplay about giant stompy robots (mecha). Having discovered that I greatly enjoy this kind of work, I’ve been putting my uncanny knack for grammar and punctuation, along with an eclectic mental collection of facts, to good use ever since as a Wielder of the Red Pen of Doom. I'm physically disabled, and for the past several years, I’ve lived with my smugly good-looking twin Paul, who writes military science fiction and refuses to talk about his military service because he can’t. Sometimes Paul and I collaborate on stories, and sometimes I just edit whatever he writes. It's worked out rather well so far. My list of non-writing-related jobs from the past includes librarian, art model, high school teacher, science lab gofer… Although I have no spouse or offspring to tell you about, I do have six cats. (The preferred term is "Insane Cat Gentleman.") I currently spend my time blogging, reading, editing, and fending off cats who like my desk better than my twin’s.
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5 Responses to They don’t tell US everything, either.

  1. Finally! Someone with the same experience as me. I love getting to a part in the story, thinking ‘okay, so now this is going to happen’ and my character retort back with a ‘nope, this is’, and then run off at a tangent.
    Best part of being a panster writer in my opinion. And if you surprise the author, chances are you’ll surprise the reader!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Those “what the heck?” moments are great, when your characters zoom away, and you have to run to catch up! 😀 I love pantsing, and never plan or outline. That makes the historical I’m writing more difficult, because the history is like an outline, and my characters’ unpredictable timeline has to mesh with it. It’s like writing two books at one time.

      Thomas has already read the story, but you may enjoy what I posted about the Muses and the secretive behavior of my characters, in “Stockings in My Sink,” at http://wp.me/p30cCH-1pz

      Liked by 2 people

    • This latest surprise isn’t a change in plot, just a sudden realization about WHY certain things that already happened had been that way.

      I’m not a complete pantser, but I suspect very few writers are. I do think about where a story is going IN GENERAL, but I don’t micro-manage the lives of my imaginary friends. I trust them to let me know what I need, when I need it, and they trust me not to kill them off without good reason. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The most magical point in a story for me is when the character takes over and tells me what’s going on 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Great post. I love it when my characters start surprising me and exerting their wills on the plot, relationships and action. I do a lot of character planning and it makes no difference. They start doing their own thing anyway. A common problem is secondary characters who try to take over. A character keeping secrets from the author is awesome. Ha ha!

    Liked by 1 person

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