Characters getting out of hand and underfoot

You’ll notice, I’m on a character kick.
My characters want their way.
And, frankly, I can’t argue with them.

Let me explain.

I went into my current project as a three book series.
Three books. That’s all. One. Two. Three.
(Okay, maybe four.)
But anyway, the characters pulled a fast one on me.
They had other plans.
Way big other plans.

(“Oh, crap.” Excuse my French.)

Not only did the worldbuilding multiply across the earth
like one of those expanding pill-like capsules that turns into a sponge dinosaur when you set it in water overnight,
(Oh, Jeez, I’m now have to apologize to the characters for the dinosaur reference — because this is future earth, mind you, with structures and cities and vast expanses of terra firma)…

(Okay, breathe, Erin)…

…but also, the characters sat down in the conference room
without telling me (*gasp!),
talked for who-knows-how-long about their roles, the plot, the conflict
(and I’m sure they talked about me, too),
and then they called me in.

(“I’m in trouble.”)

They said, collectively, “Hey. You’re not telling the whole story.
This backstory thing that you’re trying to do…
well, it simply won’t work.”

One (the old guy) even stood up and pointed a boney finger at me, saying,
“Seriously, I’m the foundation. How could you skip the foundation?”

And the hero. Ah, the hero. He played it cool.
He just sat and looked at me, until everyone was finished.
Then he stood up.
He walked over.
And, after licking his lips and staring at me a moment, started talking.
And talking.
And talking.

(I felt like I should have charged him for therapy.)

In short, he admitted to being more than a bit of a jerk.
He said, “Hey, if you don’t tell the reader what kind of jerk I really was,
then the reader’s not going to appreciate where I am right now.
So change it.
Because I want to be appreciated.”
He paused. I waited.
“I deserve to be appreciated.”

That was that.
(And he was right.)

So I caved.
I completely caved.

I put aside 30K pages that were complete
and went back two books. Count them. Two.
(Man, I wish it were one. But it’s not. It’s T.W.O.)

I started fresh. Yeah. So fresh, it’s still on the tree.
(I know, I know. I’m shaking my head, too.)

At first, I was just a bit numb.
Then what I’d done really hit me. BAM.
So then, seriously, I was more than a bit miffed.
Downright angry.
Finally, I had a bit of a stiff-arm thing going on,
kind of frozen in time, arms suspended in mid-air, hands over the keyboard.
(Yes, I know. I went through the grieving process, all four stages.
I refuse to be embarrassed about it. So let’s move on.)

Honestly, I’ve made peace with it.
Yep. The final stage: acceptance.
Because they were right.

The characters needed to have their lives represented fully…
the whole-darn-tootin’ way, as my mom would say.
Not the half-a-character way. (Weird image.)

The moral:
Sometimes you just have to listen to your characters.
Even if they talked about you behind your back.

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