Let’s start with a disclaimer: While this process works for me, it might not work for everyone.

What I prefer to write and read overall are character-driven stories.  The characters lead the story, their own internal conflicts, their reactions to external conflicts. Their choices  affect them emotionally, mentally, even if the plot of the story involves action and adventure.

So, we’re going to start off with why I say to let the characters take the lead, and that is because (for me at least) once your characters have a personality, they will have a mind of their own, and where you want to take the story won’t always mesh with who they have become.

Case in Point: for my work in progress, I took established characters from the first book of a planned series and threw a new one in the mix in an attempt to create a love triangle.

My main female character said, oh, fuck that.  She was not down with it.  In fact, her devotion to the first love interest was so great, the new character literally had no chance.

No.  Fucking.  Chance.

I could not just smash them together to force this love triangle into existence. This new character could pursue her all he wanted, but her stubborn loyalty and overall capricious attitude doomed it to be a failure from the start.  In the end, I had to work in entirely new scenes, reword, cut scenes, and add description, and tone to change WHY he was so interested in her.

Because what I had planned wasn’t going to be true to any of the main characters. No matter what situation I put them in, it would not work.  But in the end, the story was better for it.  The conflict I needed was there, it just took a different form that ultimately felt far more accurate.

This became a frustrating lesson  in why I just needed to let the characters take the lead.  They knew what they wanted better than I did.  Granted, the new character stayed, added in as a valued member of the team, a valued member of the entire series.  He’s part of the glue holding the whole operation together.

This story wouldn’t be the same without him, and if he had become an actual love interest, the story would not have developed the way it had.  In fact, it would have stalled out, either been shelved or required far more work than just extensive edits to the one book.

In closing, my characters knew themselves better than I did.  I can create them; they’re like children of my mind, but once they’re out there, in their world, reacting to and experiencing it, they’ve already grown.  I can try to lead them and advise them, but in the end, they choose their direction.  And I can either let that growth continue, or let them stagnate.

I know which path I want them to take, but it’s which path they want that matters.

Jamie lives in Charlotte, NC with her husband, three feral children and two badly behaved dogs.

She has BAs in English and Theatre, her favorite part of which was working backstage on traveling Broadway productions.


About Fear and Fury

Meet Megaera, Meg for short.  She’s like Deadpool, except for funner.

For a girl with the power of fear the recruitment attempts from both sides are never-ending.  A self-described not-a-hero, villain-leaning humanoid, Meg just wants to live her life, work her dead-end job and have everyone else (especially the heroes) leave her alone.  But when a bigger fish who can turn superpowers back on their users enters the picture and threatens the person Meg loves the most (herself), she must turn to the last group of people she would admit she needs help from.

Forced to team up with the heroes she despises (but won’t murder, because let’s face it, orange is not the new black), Meg will have to face the choices from her past that she won’t get therapy for.  Self-centered, snarky, sarcastic and a little bit dramatic, she’s going to have to save the world, even if that wasn’t her intention.  And try not to get shot in the process.  Because that shit hurts.