Bringing a Story to Life – When Character Goes out of Character

notebook-fountain-pen-cup-espresso-elegant-top-view-writer-s-workplace-49123943Character development is conflict  – David Macinnis Grill

Yesterday I pounded out 18K plus words for Adjudication: Book 10 in the Metatron’s Army Series.

This is the final book in the series.

Satisfied with a solid day’s progress, I went to bed at peace.

And then… 

After my routine (prayers of thanks, meditation) I thought about how good it felt to finally get to a point in the series I’d been working on for several months, if not years.

I knew what I wanted to happen – I just had to wait til the other work was down – at least in first draft – before setting to work on it. 

As I went over the scene I realized that a twist I’d added didn’t work.  It pulled the character out of character.  It had to go.

I’ve had this issue before, even in other series.  I generally figure it out fairly soon after the scene is down and rectify the situation by either pulling the scene or doing a serious rewrite.

In this case it’s a bit of both.  Most of the scene will be yanked and what’s left will be tweaked.

In this particular case, the root cause has to do with how the series evolved.  Due to the format, even as I was publishing the first in the series, I was writing a first draft of the entire saga.  I had a general idea of how many books it would take, so I set out with a fair amount of structure.

I figured it would be 8 to 10.

I began working on the series (on computer) the summer of 2016.  By that winter I had a pretty sold framework for the ten books.

I had the folders, the titles, and a fair amount of content, though books 8, 9, and 10 were more or less one long document at that point.

After setting up the framework I went back to work on each separate title.  During the process of final edit, I made appropriate changes. This had consequences for later books.

Perhaps I’d added action scenes that had my characters going in a different direction than originally planned, or they matured more quickly than I’d planned.  Perhaps their viewpoints had changed in book 3, something I needed to continue with in books 4 through10.

In this final book, much is happening relative to the other books and/or the story itself.

Plot elements are coming together (mysteries solved/questions answered), characters are coming into their own( fulfilling their destinies, or perhaps leaving the story), etc. 

pexels-photo-769525There’s a bit of freedom but plenty of challenge.  Pacing becomes critical.  In having things move too slowly or too quickly for any one character, I risk throwing the other characters out of rhythm.  I also end up with a character who has come out of character.

Yes, this guy would do what I had him do.  Just not at that point in the story.

So, with only minor heartburn, I’m going to chuck a couple thousand words and start over.

This isn’t a scene where I can just take it and put it somewhere else in the story.  It just has to go.

There was a time – and not that long ago – that the thought of tossing a scene would have left me cringing.

Worried I’d never be able to redo it…as if that moment when I set the words down was never going to come again.

Experience has taught me that I may not be able to recreate the moment but I can recreate the essence.

The lifeblood of the writing will be there, regardless.

It’s something I think only experience can teach; faith in the process and in yourself as a writer.

Though I’d venture to say that’s the same in any career.

It’s why words written – even those deleted – are never wasted.

black_hole_by_vanishin-d32u47y1The energy lives on.


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