When Characters Change the Plot

It appears to be the case of the mischievous characters.  Scary to say it, I admit, but when it comes to telling the story in my current fantasy novel, Nemidias, I’m definitely not in control.

I started with a solid understanding of the plot line, the world, the rules, and with well-defined key characters.  I even had an outline.  And then, ever so slowly, my characters took charge of their existence and I ended up on the sideline, forced to telling their story.  I’m not dramatizing when I say forced.  I did strain to keep to the original storyline, but when I ignore the changes the characters make, the overall action no longer flows.  It’s as if someone turns off the movie running in my mind, and my writing stalls.  I must be sounding mad to our readers by now – if anyone out there is actually reading this.

Of course, I had several tête-à-tête sessions with my characters, first telling them that they must abide by my outline, which then moved to politely asking them to please follow the plot, and finally to imploring that they let me follow the original storyline.   OK, I definitely sound crazy.  Am I the only writer with unruly characters changing the plot?

And I would have been happy with my characters breathing in their own story.  I actually enjoy the newness they bring.  So why do I complain?  Because I have to go back and change earlier chapters to tie the evolving plot, which drives me insane.  For example, I’m currently working on chapter nine, which follows the events that took place in chapter two, and… the chapters no longer correlate as they should, which means I need to re-write a big chunk of chapter two.

For me, adding content to earlier chapters is a fairly easy re-write.  If my characters add information that should have been clued before, no problem:  I just go back, find the right spot to add the information, and voila.  The issue is when there is a change in the overall plot that requires rewriting previous aspects of the storyline.

I wonder if other writers have the same issues:  a) characters changing their plots, and b) an easy way to re-write previous chapters, or how do they manage changes to previous chapters.  I hope to find a trick to make re-writes easier – although I’m not holding my breath…

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