When Characters Take Over by Amanda Green

*Sorry guys, I’m working on another gift short story.  My intention is to put these in kindle format for ya’ll on download on Friday morning.  But we have older boy home, and the routine of the house is no longer accommodated to him, so it’s taken me this long to make it to a keyboard.  So, Promo post (by Amanda Green) first, gift in the evening, okay? Be good.  Treat shall come in time.*

When characters take over – Amanda Green

Once upon a time, I went to the Romance Writers of America national convention with Sarah. This was not long after she finally got me to admit that I wrote. Now, I’d been writing stories for almost as long as I could remember. I’d shown some of them to friends and teachers along the way but they were for me. Written and then stored in the desk or under the bed or in the closet. It wasn’t that I was ashamed of them. No, it was more basic then that. I come from a long line of folks who thought writing was fine but you couldn’t make a living from it. So it was one of those hobbies you really didn’t talk about but you did because you couldn’t not do it.

Then along came Sarah and my ordered world was upset and all those characters I’d been holding at bay came pouring out. One of them, Mackenzie Santos, was loud and demanding and not about to wait one moment longer than necessary for her book to be written. That book turned out to be Nocturnal Origins. I had a lot of fun writing the book but figured it was a one off. So I moved on to other projects.

The only problem was Mac and company had other plans. I had only started to tell Mac’s story. Along came Nocturnal Serenade. That’s when I learned – yes, yes, I know. I’m the author. I ought to know all about my characters before I start a book. – that Mac’s mother had more than a few issues with the fact that some members of the family turned furry and without donning a costume. Then there was Mac’s grandmother, a strong and formidable woman who shifted into a strong and formidable jaguar. All that put family dynamics into a whole new light.

What I didn’t realize was that Mac and her grandmother had plans for the two books to turn into three and then four. With Nocturnal Interlude, I was forced to explore the consequences of what might happen if the “normals” suddenly realized monsters really do exist and live next door. That revelation hasn’t happened but it will, sooner rather than later, especially when there are members of the shapeshifter community doing their best to cause a civil war among their own kind. Mac finds herself in the middle of and wishing for a nice, simple murder case to solve instead having to deal with Shifter politics and trying to keep those she cares for safe.

December 15th marked the publication of Nocturnal Challenge. Civil war among the Shifters is getting closer to becoming reality. Mac and those she cares about have to decide if they will violate oaths they took and risk war or if they will act to prevent it. There is no doubt that the existence of Shifters will soon become public. The question is if it will be done in a way that doesn’t start a modern version of the witch hunts of old.

Mac Santos was supposed to be with me for one book. Instead, she’s “helped” me create a world that is still evolving. There is one more book in the current story arc to be written. After that, the world will continue to grow. There will be more books. Will Mac and company be the main characters? I don’t know. She tells me they will, at least in some of them. Me, I’m not too sure. There are other characters, supporting ones in the current books, who have their own stories to tell. All I know for sure is I’m not yet done with Mackenzie, Jackson, Pat and the rest of the gang. I hope everyone else is as pleased to hear it as I am.

60 responses to “When Characters Take Over by Amanda Green

  1. Sorry? For a guest blog post when you’re writing stories for us? You need to get your priorities in order, Missy. An Amanda Green GP and a SSS (Sarah Short Story) require no apple juice.

  2. Christopher M. Chupik

    I know the feeling well. In my Enigma Front story “Grasshoppers” (on sale in the post below_, I got to the end of the first draft and the story felt . . . hollow. Something was missing. So I added another character, and the story suddenly had something like a proper ending. Mind you, someone pointed out — rightfully so — that if this character was so important they had to introduced earlier, so I made sure they appeared closer to the start. And I got a sale from the story.

    How’s that for shameful self-promotion?

  3. *presses bar, looks for kibble, presses bar, looks for kibble*

    “Hi. My name is Alma and I also have characters who take over.”
    Other members of Authors Anonymous – Tuesday (Pantsers) meeting: “Hi Alma.”

    • I’ve actually gotten into public arguments with my characters.

      And the sad thing is, I’m not even a pantser…

      • Reality Observer

        Sigh. Arguing with mine is like arguing with a cat. They won’t take “No” for an answer, but sometimes they’ll wait semi-patiently while I run the can opener.

      • Christopher M. Chupik

        I try not to air my personal grievances with my characters in public.

        “I’m not insane! I’m a writer!”

        • ‘I’m not insane! I’m a writer!’

          You are aware that is akin to declaring “I’m not Christian! I’m a Protestant!”

          [This has been a public service announcement from the Department of Belaboring The Obvious]

    • I should not be surprised that the Hoydens have their own Pantser Division, should I?

      • With a Tiger (stripe cat)

      • More like corps. Everywhere else I’ve been insists on strict adherence to outlining as orthodoxy.

        • You write as if outlining and characters taking over were antitheses. My characters are perfectly willing to take over the story in outline form.

          • Characters taking over is outside the scope of my previous comment. I can’t tell you how many sites I’ve seen give the same advice to newcomers: “first, you gotta outline.” Not that there’s a number of ways to do it, with various combinations of outlining and pantsing, and find what works best for you. Here at least it’s the nine and sixty ways to construct tribal ways approach.

            • PFUI. I’ve done it by ALL methods.

            • The best advice I received was from Sarah. You do what works best for you and for that particular project. Some books are complete pantsers. Others have been plotted. Most are a combination of both. The second best piece of advice she gave me was during one book that was driving me bananas. Some chapters seemed to write themselves — right into corners. So she recommended I make notes, not so much an outline, of the next three chapters. That gave me a basic road map without tying me into a full outline.

  4. When characters take over … sigh, tell me about it. I was only going to write one — ONE! — HF book about the German settlements in the Texas Hill country, way back when, as a follow-up to my very first HF. Then I was going to move on peacefully to something completely different … but instead the very characters took over. A whole chorus of them, each with their own story, and now I have a set of seven linked novels, spanning the period from 1825 to 1918 and three generations … an eighth novel half-done, and the glimmerings of a WWI novel in the same family set beginning to dawn.
    Merciless, I tell you. Merciless.

    • LOL. I hear you. I have a book about half done right now where one of the characters was supposed to die off along around chapter 3. She gave me the “mother stare” and informed me that she had no intention of dying and would, in fact, become one of the main supporting characters. Sigh. This is why the book sits half finished. I can’t figure out what to do without letting her take over and, whether she likes it or not, she is NOT the main character.

  5. It’s especially bad when your bad guys decide they’re going to strike out on their own, and you’re left looking at the screen seeing what they’ve done and Joss Whedon’s voice from the “Objects in Space” commentary is echoing in your head: “Sometime you write something that makes you question whether you’re as good a person as you think you are.”

    • Oh yeah. Or then when they sit there and whine and moan because they are misunderstood. They really aren’t bad. They just fell into a bad crowd and are misguided and we don’t understand them. Sigh.

  6. Characters are like cats — once you allow them in they will take over everything and before you realize it they are ordering you about, demanding your attention, care and pettings.

    • Not just characters: I’m trying to finish the story Orven inspired *waves up-thread* and the blasted SETTING from the next Colplatschki book is trying to drag me into writing a story about the Dienark horse nomads and how they caused the collapse of the last remnant of pre-Fire— Shoo! Scat! You’re third in line, go away, scram!

  7. My current story went from three novels to one to two with three follow ons that have finally clarified themselves. And four other series have announced they ARE series and that they’re in the same universe and are part of why the bad guy went for subterfuge rather than overwhelming force.

    • I’m trying to start a new series in my multiverse, but the character just won’t stop interacting with the main series. I’m envisioning covers:

      Book 26 of the Wine of the Gods Series
      Book 4 of the One World Series
      Book 2 of the Directorate Series

      Yes, all on one cover. Just kill me.

  8. Heh. Gone from one scene to a novel to two books…with plenty of shorts in there too. Now just to finish and look at publishing for s&g

  9. “Sorry guys, I’m working on another gift short story.” I don’t understand this excuse. You have two hands; don’t you have two monitors? can’t you pop up multiple windows?

    • There’s probably a story in there… The author who wrote with both hands? When Arisia let one character write with her right hand, and another character write with her left hand, she thought she could finally keep the genres separated. Then the rest of the characters called for their own hands! What is an author supposed to do when pseudopods start extruding for every single character singing in the back of their head?

      • In the voice of the Rocky & Bullwinkle announcer:

        “Many Hand Make Light Work” or “Closing the Genre-ation Gap”

      • I believe the manga of Read or Die had a supporting character who wrote separate novels with her different hands. Regarding the topic at hand (SEE I LEARNED MY LESSON), there is the Twilight Zone episode starring Keenan Wynn as a playwright who can dictate real people through his tape recorder, rather than just characters.

        My characters don’t necessarily demand new stories, but they do like to insist that would never do any such tomfool thing as I’ve already written, and I’d better stop making them look like chumps. Oh well, another edit. And I suppose *you’ll* want to do something else too, Mr. Antagonist?

  10. I have been trying to write a story for a long time. I scrapped the original plot (but not the concept) and I chose a hero, and a couple of “minor characters”, and suddenly the woman minor character took over the plot. She and Mac and Athena would get along fine. Just wish life would me alone so I can finish it.

    • Life is a jealous bitch that doesn’t like you paying more attention to your characters than to her. I discovered that the hard way. 😉

  11. Orvan, please send me an e-mail at Almatcboykin AT aol DOT com if you want a copy of the story you started.

  12. While I don’t have anything published (I have a serious attention span problem… “SQUIRREL!” would be an improvement, at times 😛 ), I’m all too familiar with my characters in Role Playing environments looking at something I’m planning on them doing and going “Whoa there! I ain’t doin’ that, you two-bit hack. This is my plan for that scenario.”

    Fortunately for me they at least keep it inside my head, because I already have enough people thinking I’m not quite right in the head without arguing with myself aloud. 😛

    • To clarify my parenthetical comment in the first paragraph, I was speaking specifically about having a short attention span when it comes to writing, not referring to life in general.

  13. Is this what “portal writing” is about? My stuff seems to come out of nowhere; I’m an “extreme pantser” and have little to no idea how I generate it. I would definitely like to hear more about this.

  14. Great. I’ve got another children’s story, “The Dragon of Sunset,” that is crying for an illustrator to turn it into a picture book. Just once I wish the muse would pick something easier to arrange.

  15. *little death goddess drow goes poof* The Oyster-san summoned me!

    Sounds like fun; but I’ll be away on holidays (AND AWAY FROM MY COMPUTERS OHGODSWHY) – well my art pc till February. (Yeah, long holiday o_O) but I will have my sketchbook and my laptop so I can do at least some preliminary sketches. Fire me off an email at shadowdoodles at affsdiary dot com if that time schedule is not horrendously awful for your publishing dates.

    By the way, the being away from the Cintiq is absolute torture for me. I’ve drawn more in the last couple of days than I have the past 6 months or so. I am never going on psych medication again – PTSD and I will just have to claw at each other like territorial alley cats. I finally understand what they mean by ‘they steal my soul.’ Well, the meds steal my soul, my muse AND my brain – along with any desire to do anything but pleasure-seek – and then the games I play feel like too much effort. (That’s why I haven’t been around. SO MUCH HATE FOR PILLS. They do not work for me and I’m like a burnt cat on the concept of trying again.)

    Oh and MERRY CHRISTMAS to everyone! I’ve missed everyone! TToTT (I’ve been on Twitter; it’s all I can have the attention span for.)

  16. Amanda,
    I bought and finished your latest a couple of days ago. Enjoyed it quite a bit! But also found several typos / proof errors. Is there a good way to get them to you?