Hostile Take-Over! (When characters make up their own minds)

Have you ever heard a writer say something totally berserk, like “I tried to write a scene, but my character wouldn’t listen to me and started doing his own thing, and I had to rewrite the whole book!”? And you probably thought, “That’s the most schizophrenic thing I’ve ever heard — that can’t happen!”

Well I’m hear to tell you that can really happen. And I’m perfectly sane.
   No, you’re not.
   What? Who said that?
   I did. You’re as sane as that cucumber over there.
   Hey, I’m the writer here, and this is my blog, so get lost!
   ….

Um, ok. So it doesn’t really happen quite like that. It’s not like a little Word Man gets up off the page and starts splattering ink everywhere until he’s reinvented my chapter. Not for me, anyway. And — let me be honest here — I’d be pretty scared if that happens to anyone else. But what really happens might be something like this:

I’m writing a scene I’ve already planned out. I’ve got several characters interacting and, since I know them very well, their speech and actions simply flow without my really thinking about it. In fact, they flow out SO easily that before I’ve realized it, the characters have had a conversation or reacted to each other in a way I didn’t plan out — but it went so naturally that I can’t (or maybe just don’t want to because it’s ended up being the right thing) change it. So now I have to deal with it.

Am I crazy? I’m gonna go with NO on that. There’s nothing crazy about remembering my characters are real. Well, not REAL real, just real because they’re realistic and I know them and…you know what I mean.
  No I don’t.
  Stop that!

Ok, well, a word to the wise: it’s never good to let characters completely take over a story. We authors need to show a little backbone sometimes. After all, characters don’t know what the big picture is. And a book would be pretty hard to read if it had ink splattered all over the pages.

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