Thursday, February 24, 2011

Sometimes Your Characters Outsmart You

You've all seen those cheap horror films with the busty blonde babysitter, right? You know the one where she hears strange noises in the attic that can only be an evil killer-zombie-ghost with fangs? And she grabs a flashlight, because the electricity suddenly went out, and she climbs the stairs to investigate, armed with nothing but her um...wit.

***I tried to draw a cartoon here, but the girl looked like she had two watermelons stuck in her throat and a spaghetti noodle where an arm might be. I am not an artist.***

It might "work" in those movies, but it doesn't work in your book. Unless that's the kind of story you're writing. In that case, just turn away now.

Your character needs to have brains to make your story interesting and believable. When revising one of my manuscripts, I kept bumping up against this wall, trying to make my MC do something that she really didn't want to do. Something she would never do, because she's witty and clever, and what I was trying to force her into was stupid.

If you're trying to force your MC to put out a fire with a garden hose, instead of calling the fire department, she better have a darn good reason for it. If she doesn't, you might need to try a different approach.

Happy revising!


  1. OMG I LITERALLY laughed out loud! I want to see your drawing. :D You are so right though, and I just said basically the same thing on another blog comment - listen to your characters! If you don't you'll just end up having to re-write more than you thought.

  2. Lisa, trust me you do not want to see it. Lol!

  3. This is so true...and one of my pet peeves when reading a book. If I find myself saying, "No way. She's not that dumb," it throws the book for me. I see it more w/ female characters than male.

    P.S. I really want to see the drawing too!


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