I know I wax poetic about The 90 Day Novel--a lot. But it truly has taught me one of the most important lessons in my writing career: characters behave uncharacteristically.
Now, some of you might think, "Duh." But. I have always been a planner. I wrote my first book after painstakingly outlining every intricate detail about every main character. I knew Luke Cedrus better than the back of my hand. I knew how he'd react; how he would respond; how he would feel. To. Everything.
Or did I?
That's where I was when I started reading The 90 Day Novel. But after I read this, I have forever changed my game plan:
Our characters can go anywhere and do anything! Our job is to find reasons to support their choices. This means that when we have an impulse, rather than negating, we must explore reasons that support the action. Let's face it, we probably each do about three far-fetched things every day! What is drama if not the examination of characters behaving uncharacteristically in response to unusual circumstances?
This blew my mind. You mean, it was OK if my introverted thinker acted irrationally and in an extroverted way? WHAT?
So, as I started writing THE NAMING OF COLTON BLACK, I made sure I let Breslin lead me. I knew her; knew her personality; but I didn't let my "idea" of her direct what she did or how she acted. Instead, I gave her the freedom to act. To do. To respond.
And wow. What a difference that made! I don't think I've ever written a character in such an organic way -- and I love her the most because of it. She taught me things as I let go. She showed me how real she was; not something solely created by me.
The interesting part now? I'm writing the sequel to THE MISSING CRIMOIRE. Which means, I'm writing Luke with this new perspective. While I don't think much of his character will change, I am excited to see him grow. To see how he leads me this time around.
I'm ready for it.