Monday, September 24, 2012

Secondary Characters Talking Off-Screen


I have been typing along in my WIP for a couple months now, happily chugging along with the characters: Nellie, Broderick, Andrew, the Captain, Charity, and Steve. (Though I’ve yet to meet Steve, but whatever.) Anyway, I’m happy with them. We’re talking, we’re unfolding various scenes, and then Friday, as I’m watching a long-awaited movie on DVD, Nellie’s friend Charity came to me.

She explained a scene to me, a scene that I knew couldn’t possibly be from the book I’m writing now, but it amused me so that I humored her and typed it down. I didn’t know anything about this scene—like why she was really in England, who the man was next door who was pissing her off, or even why Nellie thought it was a great idea to give her a personal gift that would come back to bite her in the ass. Almost literally.

Before I knew it, I almost had 1500 words, and I rarely write that many words on my WIP that spontaneously. It was one of those Muse gifts. Despite that I had no other plot to the scene or Charity’s story, I saved it under Charity’s name and put it in its own folder for when the story does decide to show. After I’m done writing this one, of course. I’m guessing she’ll tell me more later. 

For whatever reason, I thought Charity might end up with Steve. I had a couple chapters in past drafts of my WIP where this was a possibility, but I’m seeing that’s not really the case. Apparently nobody wants Steve. And it also looks that my theme of “cowboy heroes” isn’t the real theme of stories going on either. Suffragettes is the theme. Or so I’ve been told.

There’s apparently a lot I was mistaken about.

This is not abnormal when it comes to my characters, and many of them like to show up with scenes from other books and tempt me away from my current project, but not this time. This time I feel like a teacher who has a handle on the classroom this time, and given the needy kid some attention, but directed the class back to the subject at hand. (Let’s not tell my father that. He might get his hopes up again.)

So tell me about your experiences: do random characters tell you their stories out of turn? Do you write down notes and proceed with your WIP, or do you get lured by their story for the new one? If you had a theme to your books, do you know what it is? How are you doing on your WIP? Any pearls?

20 comments:

Maureen said...

I've seldom had second stories show up and demand immediate words. I have had second stories develop in a first, but never to the point of needing immediate voice. It happened with Jezebel's story in the first book, and I already knew that Janie's story was coming after Jez's...

Now, I have had characters just take things a direction I didn't plan...

But 1500 words is great! I got about that far with a fourth book in the Kraken's Caribbean series. One that might not go novel length, I'm just not sure yet. Those words flew out of me and then I stalled, but it happened the same time everything else stalled, so no catastrophe.

Pearls? Nope. But I did cut out over 50 uses of the word sigh or variations there-of out of a finished novel that I needed to edit... A personal pearl of sorts!

As for themes, my themes always seem to fall into finding new chances, despite deserving them...

Janga said...

I admire your discipline, Hellie. I'm easy. I can always be seduced and distracted by a new character with a new story, particularly when I reach the point where I can't make the current characters behave or when they are not speaking to me.

Marnee Bailey said...

Good job! I think what you did was the best thing to do. Give the chatterbox character a little air time, then tuck them away. :)

I have been lured away from a book. But usually it's in the very very early phases. If it doesn't feel right, I stop. But usually before the 10K mark. I might have 4 or 5 5K starts of different stories. I can't tell if I'm just waiting to be ready to write them or if I just have a bad case of ADD.

Things are going well on the WIP. I'm at a little over 20K. I hope to make big progress again this week, though.

TerriOsburn said...

I've had the privilege of reading the scene mentioned and it is hysterical. I love it. Yes, you did the write thing. Write it down when it comes. Especially since there are so many questions surrounding the details. Those will come in time but you finish the current one first. Which is still chugging along beautifully, btw.

I've done this except it's not usually a scene but lots of character and plot details. So I take copious notes and keep them in a folder for that book. I'm about 15K away from the middle of this book, which is likely when the characters for the next book will start getting antsy and talking more.

If everyone will just be patient, we'll be fine. However, if I'm editing book one while writing book 2 and book 3 characters get too pushy, I might actually jump overboard.

TerriOsburn said...

You did the RIGHT thing. Maybe I write "write" too often lately. LOL!

MsHellion said...

Mo, cutting is HARD...and good for you for being so ruthless. I keep using words that I know are going to be cut and cut and cut because I use them way too often. In my everyday speech. *LOL*

I love your theme. And if we had to wait until we were deserving, none of us would be doing much of anything would we??? Us troublemaking undeservers are here to help the others get their wings, right?

MsHellion said...

Janga, I love the thought you can be seduced so easily...you always strike me as such a proper southern girl, I thought you'd be quite disciplined. :)

But I imagine for you that fiction writing is FUN and what makes it fun is being seduced...and if you were disciplined like you were about academic writing, it would suck all the fun out of it...and fiction writing is your vacation getaway...

MsHellion said...

Marn, I think that's the key this time. I am pretty embedded with this book that I don't want to leave it. Anything under 20,000 and I'll abandon it at the first whimsy.

Congrats on your great progress!!! :) I love how well the pirates are doing! It's very inspirational!

MsHellion said...

Terri, I'm trying to imagine you jumping overboard. Since I don't think you like to be in the water. *LOL* But good try!

I'm sure your characters will be well-behaved. *LOL* Besides Lucas and Sid are so loud, it's hard to imagine another character trying to overtalk them to get her say about what should happen in her book.

Maureen said...

And, of course, my brain...no doubt to prove a point, revisted me last night in a dream and came up with a fantastical bit of hilarity it badgered me to write...

Well, f*ck you, brain. You heartless slut. You ran off to the Bahamas or somewhere and I don't have to do anything you say anymore.

(It is a funny idea and I may take some notes...)

P. Kirby said...

Well, at 60K into the current WIP, I got mildly sidetracked by a fan fiction story. But it's okay, because it woke up my voice and I'm writing the original as well now. Currently, the bigger problem is that my muse has found its work ethic and wants me to work on four stories at once. Which makes me cranky because I don't have enough hours in the day.

As for themes, I'm on a kind of redemption kick.

TerriOsburn said...

I forgot to answer the themes question. Mine all seem to be about family, loyalty, and heartbreak. Family is definitely the over-arching theme of this trilogy. Mostly about the family you make rather than bloodlines.

Good to hear the muse is back, Pat. Even if she's come back an overachiever.

Mo, you tell that brain. Who does she think is running this show anyway?

Maureen said...

Yeah, the nerve of her to show up, arm in brain stem with my muse, both drunk and merry, singing sea chanties about congenial whores... And then to whisper this idea where toys come to life?

Real toys, not adult toys.

Pat, I hate it when multiple stories refuse to get in line but pull that mob thing. "Pick me! Pick me!"

Sabrina Shields said...

I'm horrible at letting new ideas take me away from the story I'm working on. But, I don't end up doing the right thing, I end up just hopping from story to story to story. :(

TerriOsburn said...

That's why we're here, Scape. To crack the whip and keep you on task!

MsHellion said...

Mo, there are time the F-bomb is the only word that can be used for the situation.

MsHellion said...

P.Kirby--YEAH for the 60,000 words! Love that the fan fiction re-inspired you to write on the original again! I love when writing does that--makes you fall in love all over again! (And I *LOVE* redemption stories. My favorite thing to look for in books!)

MsHellion said...

Family and loyalty are great themes. Angst comes with the territory, right? Loyalty is one of my favorite themes; I'm a big fan of Ron Weasely for this reason.

MsHellion said...

*LOL* Sabrina, admitting it is the first step. And hey, maybe hopping sorta works for you. If you write until you play out, then move to the next story and can pick it up and write until that runs out, etc, etc, etc without getting lost, who are we to say that's not a successful technique? It all has to get revised anyway!

Maureen said...

The multi-track thing used to work for me. Before my brain went AWOL.