What do you do with a character who refuses to do what you want her to do?  Do you force her to fall into line or do you just throw up your hands and let her go the way she wants?

I’m in a down and dirty catfight with one of those right now and it’s driving me crazy.  Not so much the fact that she’s winning, though I’ll admit that has me a feeling just the teensiest bit peeved, but when I read back over what I’ve written each day, I know she’s right.  And damn it, I find it hard to argue with that.   

The thing is…I’ve been told by numerous people, all who know a lot more about writing than I do, that a writer should never, never let the characters take charge of the story.  Yet, it seems with every book I write, there’s at least one character that does exactly that.  And it’s something of a major struggle for me to make that particular character behave according to an outline or the vague guidelines I have in my head and the pithy notes I’ve scrawled on scraps of paper and scattered all over my office.

This character, one Betty Sue Corn–and some day I’ll have to tell you the story of how I got her name, it’s a good one–is a timid, logical, don’t-rock-the-boat kind of woman.  She’s approaching forty, an old-maid librarian at a middle school, and considers herself practical and extremely ordinary.  But when I got her up on Eternity Mountain, the setting for my Eternal Shadows series, and she met Marc, the hero of the story, she turned into a  smart-ass, daring, and at times, flatout bitchy woman.  And let me tell you, I just know she’s not going to be happy if she doesn’t get to be a kick-ass heroine in the end.

But this is a romance.  A paranormal romance, which gives you a bit of leeway with the characters, but a romance, all the same.  The hero’s supposed to rescue the heroine, right?  Well, yeah, but she’s not having any of that!  And given a number of posts I’ve read recently on the romance blogs, and the comments made on them, readers are getting tired of the hero always being the one who saves the day.  So, maybe I should let her do what she wants to do, let her be the white knight, so to speak.  God knows, I did it in the first book of the series, Snow Shadows.  No, I’m not going to give away anything and I hope you’ll forgive this bit of BSP (blatant self-promotion), but the heroine in Snow Shadows, Ellen, doesn’t just lay down and whimper when her happy ending is challenged.  She fights back, or at least tries to.

Difference is, that was my idea, not the character’s!  But Betty Sue has a mind of her own, she’s taking this book in directions I never intended it to go.  And I don’t know whether to be glad that she’s keeping me from the dreaded “midway hump” or flat-out pissed about it.  All I know is the working title for this one, Storm Shadows, is turning out to be the perfect choice for this book because she sure is stirring up a storm of massive proportions in my brain.

<sigh>  I guess I’ll just have to wait till the dust settles to see how this one turns out.

 

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