Characters With a Life All Their Own

An idea for a new book smacked me in the forehead last week. It was painful, but I took aspirin, put aside the book I’ve been working on for the past several months, and let the new story pour out into a word document.

Three pages into it, I had another realization smack me in the head. I donned my husbands football helmet to protect my brain and reread the beginning I had just written. It was true. I hated the lead female character in the book. She came across as a princess type. She was pretty, and she knew it. She dated brainless eye candy and realized they weren’t nearly as perfect as she was. Yep, I couldn’t stand her and she wouldn’t shut up.

“Write my story,” she kept yelling in my ear as she stomped her size seven shoe. “Write my story. I’m perfect. My life needs to be perfect. Keep going.”

I frowned, looking out past the face guard of the helmet at the computer screen. “Shut up. You’re too perfect. Your problems are in your own perfect little head. You need real problems if you want a place in my book.”

Then I read over the parts about her best friend, a normal mother of two with motherly hips and a determined smile. She wasn’t anywhere near perfect, and she didn’t claim to be.

Thankfully, the helmet deflected the brain impact this time around. Despite the cries of outrage from Miss Perfect, I backspaced clear to the point where their personalities really started to emerge. My perfect character became more realistic, more flawed, and her best friend became more wise, more single, and less motherly. I quickly added another five pages full of words building their lives and rounding them out into likable, believable people.

Miss Perfect’s voice in my head became less demanding as I wrote. She became freindlier, more caring. By the time I finished the first chapter, she was my new best friend, and her best friend was a strong counterpart, her strengths and weaknesses merging well with Miss NowNotSoPerfect.

“Thanks for not listening,” she whispered, scuffing the toe of her size nine on the floor. I clicked the save button and smiled, but I keep the helmet handy, just in case.

Claire Collins is the author of Fate and Destiny and Images of Betrayal.


Filed under books, fun, Humor, life, musings, writing

7 responses to “Characters With a Life All Their Own

  1. Ha! Gotta love it! This reminds me of a certain dark angel who tried to convince me he was a devil. But then he had to come clean when he decided to let me tell more of his story.


  2. I still have a bruise on my forehead.

  3. Ouch! Too bad you didn’t slap Miss Perfect before you made her better. Teach her a lesson! I’ve had that same problem before. Some characters, for no reason!

    I had the girl all set to fall head over heels for the BBQ guy who saved her from thugs, only to have her young boss come in. Turns out he’s been in love with her for years. Who knew? Certainly not Monica. Dumb girl! But Billy’s winning her over, so it will come out well. BBQ just got relegated to the back burner. He’ll have to find another girl, sorry!

  4. Okay, just how crazy did that last post make me sound? I think it’s sleep deprivation….

  5. Dellani, the sad thing is… I understood every word of that. In Images of Betrayal, I didn’t know who the good guy was and who the bad guy was until much later. Wow was I surprised!

  6. It sounds like you came to a good resolution with your characters, but the way I figure it, there are no perfect characters. Your perfect character seemed flawed to me — arrogant and self-centered.

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