Putting the characters first

No, no. After you. I insist.
No, no. After you. I insist.

The end of the latest polish of the western spec is at hand, with just the last few pages needing some work.

Various subplots are being wrapped up, and I know what happens with the characters involved, but all of my attention now is focused on what may be the most important scene in the whole story: the main character makes a literal life-changing decision.

Notes from a few trusted colleagues indicated the decision as it stands now seems out of character. I’d known since starting this project that this was how I wanted this storyline to end. Changing it was out of the question.

Bonus points for those who’ve probably already figured out what happened next.

Their suggestion kept making more and more sense. My main character would not choose this, despite me wanting her to. But the story’s not about what I want. This change had to be made.

Now that I’ve opted to take things in this new direction, I’m working out a real heart-wrenching scene that depicts the character in the process of making this decision and the toll it takes on her. Conflict, character development, moving the story forward – all based on her.

It’s often been said that your characters will let you know how things are supposed to go.

It’s too easy to have a character do something because that’s what you would do. The challenge is to have them do something you wouldn’t, but you have them do it because that’s the kind of character they are.

8 thoughts on “Putting the characters first

  1. If it’s the sequence I think it is, you could certainly make it come out the way you want, but it needs to be set up better in the early parts of the story, or she needs to go through a significant change during the adventure that makes the decision easier. I think you can make it work, but I also want to see the second draft to see what you changed!

  2. Me too, Z! With Brian on that one and can’t wait to see how it turns out. I know how you feel though – I am wrestling with my main character now.. .and being of fixed opinions on his character for so long, I have finally explored more psychologically made some changes. In my opinion, no matter how much we writers like to think we are writing the story and are in control, these stories are already set in a parallel universe of their own, so kudos for taking that step!

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