My Character & Me

It’s apparently spring in my novel, because I’m experiencing a revolt. No blood has yet spread across anything. I don’t think it will. We’re pretty civilized here. Civilized people don’t kill one another to get their way, except in fiction…right…?

The main character and I are wresting with what’s going on in the novel. He’s moving into this new direction. Heavily dependent on technology, he insists on exploring how the loss of personal technology influences his behavior. He has become mentally, physically, and emotionally weaker. Although he’s staying fit and slender, he’s aging, and his energy level is drooping. He does not have the level of control with which he’s accustomed to living.

But he’s not seeing that in his people. Without technology, individuality is sprouting. His people see and hear better than him. Many have higher energy levels. Some are becoming bullies. While bullying had been psychologically and socially influenced over the course of time from now until the future, and diminished through socializing, technology in their recent history, those safeguards and safeties were removed when their nanotechnologies were removed.

Other emerging trends among his force are disturbing him. Binge drinking is becoming a problem. Without their sexes and free of their technology, people are becoming sexually active. Promiscuity is flowering. That’s causing jealousies and attachments that can affect discipline, good order, and the chain of command.

These changes, and how this unit copes with it, is the story, he insists. That’s what he believes should be written. I disagree; I sought more of an adventure story. I add elements of adventure, threats, and conflicts to increase that sense of adventure, but he keeps dragging me into psycho-analysis.

I dreamed about this problem last night. In the dream I was a military member on shift again. I’d been lazy and hadn’t completed the shift checklist. Hell, I didn’t know where to find it. I hadn’t inventoried the COMSEC materials, read the log, closed out the last log for the Zulu day, nor started another one, and shift change was coming on fast.

Anxiety suffused me; WTF was I going to do? 

Well, I started scrambling to make it right. But I was quickly sidetracked with my environment. It was disorganized, and poorly planned. I was appalled. Although I knew I was running out of time, organizing that place developed into my primary priority. Of course, once I did that, I developed a focus. Having a focus revitalized my energy level and determination, and wiped out my anxiety.

Pondering the dream this morning, I developed understanding that it wasn’t about my life, but the novel in progress. That bifurcation I experienced was causing anxiety because I didn’t know what the character was coming up with next. And, I’d developed him as a strong individual. I didn’t like seeing him losing his way.

Ah, hah, I understood, oh, there we go. This is about writing the novel in progress. My conflict with my character  —

Let’s put this more correctly. The change of direction in the novel from my original intention bothers me. With that, I’ve lost focus and energy. Thinking about this – because I write to help me think – I think my character is correct.

I know from reading others that many writers wrestle with characters taking over. Some dismiss it; they’re the writer, they’re in control, and they decree what gets onto the pages. I live and work through my characters on the pages. We’re partners more than master and puppet. Perhaps it’s due to my organic writing style, which, on reflection, can look as complicated as layers of spider and cobwebs. And it’s not like I haven’t been down this path before. I often begin with an idea that grows into something else.

Although it makes me uncomfortable, I’ll probably write what the character wants. Then I’ll edit it down to find a compromise we can live with.

Characters; they can be the worse.

Time to write like crazy, at least one more time.

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