#GuestPost Writing Expectations by Aimee Brown


Writing Expectations – Let the characters write their story – a lesson that drove me mad.

by Aimee Brown

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It’s really kind of funny but I didn’t expect to be good at the things people are now telling me I’m great at. The conflict for instance. I hate conflict in real life. It makes me uncomfortable to even watch it on TV. In real life, I’ll avoid it, for the most part, at any expense. Who am I to be the one to cause strife in someone’s life? No thank you.
Conflict is necessary for writing, though. You can’t write the perfect character, no one will like them. And you can’t write a story where everything goes smoothly for the characters. Readers will get bored. Once I grasped that I had to torment the characters, little things became easier and the tormenting kind of planned and wrote itself. Plot lines got more complicated and things took turns I never saw coming. Most of the conflict in the book, I didn’t plan. The characters wrote it for me. Even though I wanted to plan out their voice and the path they took, they wouldn’t allow it.
In all honesty, something I never expected to happen was to have the conflicts coincide with other conflicts that weren’t even written yet. When I looked back and reread my first draft, I was even impressed at times. Somehow my own thoughts turned on me and became this story that I never saw coming. I definitely didn’t plan it. I knew I needed something to continue to be a secret to keep the reader going but how I would figure out what it should be, evaded me. To my surprise, the secrets even wrote themselves.
Each little thing I threw at Emi seemed to play into a bigger problem further on down the road. Those are all things I didn’t plan. The characters did that for me. It seems if you give someone enough personality and wit, they can keep the story moving without you needing to give their next move a lot of thought.
As I would write things would suddenly hit me as to how I’d like for them to play out. They never went the way I wanted and that was hard because it would change the thing I’d planned after that, and even after that. I quickly learned to stop planning. It’s just not my style, I guess.
I think something I’ve realized now that the book is finished and edited is that writing without looking back is important in the fact that when you read a piece of a story, it won’t work. But, when you read the book as a whole, things play into each other in ways you’d never expected when writing each section individually. Obviously, no one sits down and writes a 65k+ word book in one sitting. Which means if you are a panster kind of writer, like myself, each day can bring new moods and new ideas for the characters that never seem to shut up in your head. If I’d have gone back and reread the writing I did the day before, my characters might have been one dimension while I tried to force the voice on them that I wanted. Instead, continuing where I left off, made them more believable as a real person. Their moods changed, their ideas became deeper and their personality shined brighter than my own.
I guess I ‘d always kind of thought that the author chose the voice and conflict of the characters, not the other way around. But truthfully, if a story works, the characters write it for you and they seem to do it in a way you couldn’t have planned. It really showed me that writing isn’t all about skill. Environment and things that happen day to day in your real life also take part in every sentence that you write.
Now, I’m completely open to whatever turns my stories takes. Messing up the first draft isn’t going to be the end of the world. Planning the first few chapters seems to be really all I need. AND, the worse I allow the writing to be at first, seems to inspire the best of ideas come in the second draft.
So, if the characters in your head won’t follow your direction, that’s OK. They seem to know the story better than you do.
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