One of the most challenging tasks for an author is staying true to the character they are writing about. Authors fear their own personalities would sneak into a characters mind, thus affecting the way a character might react to a situation which would lead to a whole new story. A true writer fights the urge to influence their characters mind by allowing the character to rebel and act as their own person. Sometimes these decisions will drive the author crazy but until the character goes through their own growth process the authors job is to write the characters story not to influence it.
Laurie Crompton author of the debut young adult contemporary, BLAZE, is our guest for today. She talks to us about her main character and how she as an author had to step back and let Blaze make her own mistakes. Laurie explains in:
When Characters Don’t Listen
Blaze came into my mind fully-formed as this comic-obsessed girl who was completely stuck in her life but making the best of things. I immediately knew I wanted to set her free. Unfortunately, once I started writing her story I discovered things get much, much worse for her before they get better! The comic book element was definitely drawn from my life since I was a bit of a comic book nerd back in high school, but I was careful to make the novel accessible to those who don’t speak comic-geek. I also wanted to highlight that sibling bond that can only be formed by spending thousands of hours stuck driving around together, and then the minivan sort of became a sidekick character unto itself. The fun makeover Blaze gives the minivan was actually inspired by my spray-painting my first car hot pink when I was seventeen. My friends from high school still talk about that car and I’m so glad I was able to pay homage to it in a book!
Having Blaze decide to give in to pressure from Mark was probably the most difficult part of writing her story. Some readers have told me their reaction was “Noooo!” when they got to that point in the book and I always tell them that I had that exact same reaction while writing it. But I just knew that I had to stay true to the story and the character and although I would have LOVED it if Blaze had dumped Mark, I knew that wasn’t what she would do. She was desperate to be his girlfriend and as much as even I was yelling for her to walk away she made the decision to stay. It can be wonderful when characters take on a life of their own and tell you their story, but it can also be very frustrating when, like Blaze, they make really poor decisions!
I am proud of the strength Blaze shows in the face of so much opposition through her story. The way she eventually takes matters into her own hands is something that I know she was capable of doing all along. Like many of us (raises both hands!) she just needs to learn a few things the hard way. I’m glad that she was willing to share her story with me and I hope that readers enjoy spending time with her as much as I did!
Let us know in the comments section below if you struggle with rebellious characters and how you prevent your own reactions influence theirs.
Laurie Crompton write young adult novels and enjoys the exciting ups and downs of the careers. She majored in English and minor in Journalism at St. John’s University. Since then she’s written for national magazines like ALLURE as well as numerous trade publications and have appeared on Good Day New York several times as a Toy Expert. Laurie’s debute novel BLAZE was published on February 1st, 2013.