How Characters Alter Their Own Stories

Sitting here at my PC, banging away on the keyboard as I write a scene for a new character I’m going to introduce in a later book of my romance serial, Aida, a scene pops into mind. A random scene, not something I’d planned or even thought about before this point.

I write the scene, laugh at the scene because my character has just been introduced to a new situation and is both mildly annoyed and somewhat flustered, then move to the next scene. If you’re thinking this is in any way unusual, trust me, it’s not. In fact, this is how I normally write, more or less completely at random, at least when it comes to individual scenes.

It’s been said by numerous writers that ‘your characters know their story better than you do’, or variations to that effect. And the totally random yet utterly perfect scene I just wrote for this character confirms that more eloquently than I could ever manage, even if given an unlimited word budget.

If you’ve read the first book, you’ll remember a flamboyant character by the name of Falconi. He exists to introduce the reader to the concept of character-type idols, people who create a character—a whole persona—and roleplay it at all times, at least in public, and sometimes even in private for simple authenticity’s sake.

A less flattering term for this is chuunibyou, which can be applied to teenagers who believe themselves to be the things they’re pretending to be. I actually had a friend at school who suffered from these same delusions, believing himself to be Wolverine, claws and all. I wish I were joking.

But in the case of my own character-type idols, the term ‘chuunibyou’ doesn’t really fit. They don’t believe they’re witches or aliens or vampires, it’s literally just a mask or persona they wear while in-character akin to playing a role in a movie, just on more of a permanent basis.

You probably won’t be surprised to learn that the new character I’m talking about here is also a character-type, specifically roleplaying as a witch and using holographic tech to simulate magic, hence why Falconi uses this when you first see him in Aida Book 1; it lets the reader know this technology exists in readiness for later introduction.

I won’t go into too much detail on my new girl beyond the fact she’s a witch, you’ll have to read it when it comes out to discover more :p But what happened while writing this new scene is that she decided she wanted to try being a vampire witch. Completely out of nowhere, just ‘this seems like it’d be fun’ and glaring at me until I wrote it for her.

And now I have written it for her, that’s a new aspect to her character. Or rather, it’s not, because she abandons the idea pretty quickly, but it’s an important little detail that will serve to add some extra flavour to her and the scenes involving her. She occasionally comes up with weird ideas to try, which wasn’t actually a part of my initial plans for her, again an example of her knowing her story better than I do.

One short little scene that popped into mind entirely at random, and it’s changed this character in ways—albeit relatively minor ones—I’d not considered before. Sometimes I worry about how my characters take on a life of their own… but then I remember that’s perfectly normal and just get on with letting them tell me what to write. After all, they know their stories better than I do.

Yurika

Yurika S. Grant is a writer and yuri lover who writes lesbian fiction and lives in the sunny yet unbelievably flat East Midlands. Secretly a witch.

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