For the third time this week, a character in my young adult series has surprised me and changed how they need to be written. Which has left me to ask the question are we really the ones that are writing our characters or do they become real identities and just tell us what to put down on the page. Personally, I think it is the later. I think characters should live their own lives and not just do things because the plot needs them to, however it is very useful if they do marry up.
Now if this change in your character is something that character has built to and just affects the plot from now on, well that’s reality easy. I mean, you will have to write the rest of the book slightly different (or very differently – depending on the size of the surprise that your character has come up with), but that’s all unwritten words. Sometimes, actually more often than not, the changes that come up effect what you have written in the previous chapters. If you are in chapter two, that is not so bad, but for my latest character change, I’m around 70% into book four and yes it does affect the previous chapters.
So what do you do it that situation? So do you say forget, I’m too far into the story to change things now? As tempting as it may seem that is not a real possibility. Until the book is out there, you can always changes bits especially if it backs a story better. Luckily in my case, I have been holding onto the previous books so I can drop in clues to the later books in the earlier ones as well as release them reasonably close together. So now I’m left with two choices (a) to go back and rewrite scenes or (b) to continue as if I have as if I had made the changes and go back and make them once I have finished the book. For me the option is b, I really do think that finishing a book is what is important and you can always changes things in edits.
I guess that is the point to this post. Anything can be changed in edits, so if a character comes up with up with surprises then you should go with them especially if those characters improve your character and make your story better. And the other point of the post that a character still surprising you is a good thing as they are becoming real people and not just puppets to move into place because the plot wants that.