Thursday, March 17, 2011

On story pirates...

Well. 's been a while, no?

Every so often, a character swaggers, fully formed, onto the page and demands to have the story revolve around them. I've had it happen several times with several different characters, the latest of whom are running rampart through my hedgehog project, upsetting all of my original idea's plans, but leaving a much more coherent and interesting story in their wake.

It's funny how this can work sometimes. In the most particularly egregious example, a background character I needed for one tiny subplot ended up getting his own entire novel for NaNo. Yes, my leading man Red started as a walk-on who popped into my head completely fully-formed. He came in with motivation, character description and everything. The only thing that really changed from beginning to end was his role in the story and how he acted in it. While his motivation remained the same, he acted a bit different in several different drafts as how I treated him changed.

It's pretty cool sometimes when it all comes together like that with seemingly no effort on the writer's part. It's like having all the work done for you as this character provides you with a blueprint for everyone else in the interactions between the cast members. Other times, it can be a nightmare as it begins to shift everything around for better or for worse.

Because this can be a not-good thing. Dangers of Mary-Sue-dom abound, as does losing sight of the original story. When one strong character begins to shift all the other character interpretations really quickly, it can show how weak the other characters already were and that can throw you into despair. I know it does me occasionally, as I bang on the keyboard in frustration as each new acquisition to the cast seems far more interesting than all of the originals. Then I wonder why bother with the originals if the new guys are so much stronger and more interesting, but then I remember what made me love the original so much that I would want to write it at all and I get all flustered.

For right now though, I'm still infatuated with these new characters. Two of them this time, they suddenly are giving me long-term goals in the story and background stories to explore in the present action and even shifted the dynamics of the cast around enough that I have new relationships to explore that I think are far more interesting than what was there before. Time will tell if this is true, but for now, I'm happy.

In terms of discussion: has anyone else ever had one of these story pirates as well? Also, does anyone else have another name for them other than "story pirates"? Because they are like pirates, in how they catch you unawares and take control of the reins, but c'mon, there has to be a snazzier title somewhere.

1 comment:

  1. Cool on your cahracter Red. That happens to me once in awhile. Some characters are bigger than life. Story pirates seems a good name for them.