Controlling Your Characters

Uncontrolled Fire

This photo is of my neighbor’s house fire. My home is the one in the front. Thanks to the wonderful Gladstone Fire fighters, my house survived. This fire was nothing compared to one I experienced a few years earlier when I attended a planned fire for firefighter training. 

Back then I was writing a scene in one of my novels about a fire burning a mansion. In order to better to describe a fire I had the privilege of attending an actual planned one by the Gladstone Fire Department. The firefighters were in control of burning this house. At that time I experienced many senses as I felt the heat, smelled the smoke, heard the roar of the flames, and saw the intensity of the colors of the flames, well described as fiery red, and the shades of grey in the smoke. I used the experience as best I could in my writing. That novel is still unfinished. 

A deliberate controlled fire is quite a different thing from an uncontrolled fire as you can see in this photo where the heat, the sounds, the intense colors all are magnified at least twenty times — or more.

As a writer I want to be in control of my characters and my plot. I have had some characters take off on their own and try to turn the plot for their own use. I almost always rein them in and tame them down. I find myself trying to write for my perceived readers and not allow my characters be who they want to be as they try to turn my PG13 book into …  

6 thoughts on “Controlling Your Characters

  1. How long ago was your neighbor’s fire? Are they all okay? I’m so glad your house was spared! That’s a scary thing!

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  2. Why rein them in? For me, I find they end up in unique places I’d never think to go, and their personality becomes more distinct and vibrant. It’s later, when I think about the reader after the book is completed, that I consider my readers and recognize they are going to love this person almost as much as I do. Which was more thrilling, the controlled fire or your neighbor? By the way, what happened?

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  3. Why rein them in? For me, I find they end up in unique places I’d never think to go, and their personality becomes more distinct and vibrant. It’s later, when I think about the reader, after the book is completed, that I consider my readers and recognize they are going to love this person almost as much as I do. Which was more thrilling, the controlled fire or your neighbor? By the way, what happened?

    Like

  4. Judith, losing control of my work is the number one reason I don’t share my work. I love your approach to writing. I hope you continue your story.

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