I love wild and unruly characters. You know the ones who just want to have a good time, the ones who refuse to do what you want them to do, the ones who do not let you into their head or the characters who take us off on wild goose chases.
Of course it’s never the author’s fault that their imaginary friends are running riot….um…no…fault lies with the unruly characters! Yes!
Sometimes you do need to take control of your rebellious literary offspring.
Here is my guide on how to tame your wild character:
- For the really wild ones who like a good time – ask yourself whether you are living vicariously through your characters? Are you getting carried away with living life through another’s eyes? It is a tough question to answer but worth a consideration. Some of my unruly characters like to enjoy themselves a bit too much (fake bakes, dating mysterious men and doing really bad karaoke) and sometimes I wonder there is a bit of me living out life through their eyes. Sigh!
- Admit that an unruly character is a sign that something isn’t working. Gasp! This is not easy especially for those of us who struggle with admitting we are wrong. Put aside your ego and ask yourself whether your mischievous character is trying to tell you that something is wrong with your plot or your ideas on characterisation.
- Switch POV. I like to take a scene with a character who refuses to do what I say and rewrite it with a different POV. This can throw up some really interesting results. It feels like a load of extra work but viewing them from a different perspective helps you understand them better, which in the long run might help you control them.
- Let them have their way for a scene or two. This is not easy, especially for those of us who are literary control freaks. Basically you tell your wild character to do whatever they want and you see where it leads you. It may help them get something out of their system or in my case you could end up spending a few days eye rolling at them.
- Undertake a character questionnaire. I hate to say this but when characters are unruly it does mean they are not developed enough. My favourite questionnaire is this one which has 156 questions. Nothing escapes this gem!
- Do they have enough conflict or pain in their fictional life or do they need more? Are you really challenging them or is their behaviour a result of them having too much free time on their hands? Give them some more pain! This works a treat and brings the unruly ones into line. Dig out your notes on their backstory and see how you can crank up the conflict. That will teach em! Sigh!
- If they still won’t listen – rewrite them! I have had to take this sort of decisive action with one of my characters. She was given a lot of warnings and still refused to do what I asked.
If these 7 tips don’t work you can always try…sending them straight to bed with no TV or Twitter!
Have a great day!
If you want to hear me struggling to tame a wild character, Check out my podcast – The Diary of Roxy Collins.