Let Your Characters Take You to New Places

Not Everything Has to be Planned

It is tempting to try to make everything fit into the plan. We start writing a story with a beginning, middle and end in mind, and then we labor to make it all fit together. The real magic of a story is often that it doesn’t quite work that way.

As you design characters, you should provide them with depth and allow them to be real. As such, they may steer your story in new directions. That is more than okay, that is exactly what you want!


This is one of my favorite quotes about writing:

The faster I write the better my output. If I’m going slow I’m in trouble. It means I’m pushing the words instead of being pulled by them. Raymond Chandler


Pushing the words instead of being pulled by them. That is such a great way to look at what writing should be!

Let Your Characters and Your Story Pull You

Don’t insist that your story follow some arbitrary path. If it wants to go in a different direction, allow and encourage it. Anytime it feels like the progress of the story is slowing, or the process is becoming rigid, release the chains. Many authors are afraid to let the story veer too far off course because they fear they may never get it back.

Have No Fear!

There are two important points here.

The first is that if your book was meant to finish the way you had initially planned, it will get there. Don’t worry about forcing things on your characters. You may find that somebody you were planning on killing is just too damn tough or smart to kill! How great is that? Your readers will see that as organic, they will sense that the character keeps getting close to death and narrowly escaping. It’s in the surprises that really great writing happens.

Here’s another article about discovery writing, and more of its magical qualities!

The second point about veering off course is this: The wilderness is full of wonder! Don’t be afraid to go there. If your characters end up wanting to go skinny dipping at night, let them. It’s a strange thing to want to do, and it might have never been something you had thought would be in one of your books. However, let them go try it! Swimming at night is full of eeriness and unknowns, it might turn into a very exciting chapter.

*None of my characters have ever skinny dipped at night, but they might now.

Your characters are your best friends and worst enemies, let them push and pull the story. Don’t force anything or it will feel that way to the reader. Allowing your characters the freedom to show you the world they live in is not only fun, but it’s the right way to create a beautiful story.

Happy writing!

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