When Characters Take Charge

Do you remember when Oprah hosted an author and a small group of readers to discuss the work? A reader might bemoan the character’s fate and ask the writer, “How could you do that to her?” The author invariably would respond with similar emotion and agree that the outcome disturbed her, too.

“But you are the author?” someone wpuld query.

“Yes, but the character directed her own outcome.”

A moment of puzzled quiet followed.

I was confused by the author’s answer myself, that is, until I had similar experiences with characters stepping into the directors’ roles.

Have any of you experienced this in your own writing?

A recent read confirmed how other authors are faced with assertive characters: The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom (which I would highly recommend.) Ms. Grissom discussed her own challenge. In the “Author’s Note” she described her own phenomenon:

“Each day more of the story unfolded,…I was left to wonder what the following day would bring. … I tried on a number of occasions to change some of the events (those I found profoundly disturbing), but the story would stop when I did that, so I forged ahead to write what was revealed.”

Many authors would discount this character takeover, but I have experienced it and wonder about you.

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