I was asked a great question by a friend and fellow writer over the weekend, and it was this -
Is it a problem if my characters keep changing the ending I'd planned for a story?
It was well-timed, as I'm currently working on characters for a new tvdetective book, and one in particular; a man who'll be so central to the novel (and fascinating, hopefully) that I want him to dominate it.
For a while now, I feel I've been guilty of the old charge levelled at we scribblers of crime fiction - that we let the plot dominate to the extent that it eclipses the characters in a book.
I've always thought this is very likely, if not inevitable, in a form of story-telling which is, by its nature, driven by the plot. But I do also think that with some thought and work, you can get a balance which means the participants can have at least as much prominence as the storyline.
I won't go too much into my new character - writer's jealousy and secrecy, and all that! - but I'm greatly enjoying getting to know him. He's very weird, which always appeals to me, and I'm currently trying to get his backstory right, to work out exactly why that is.
But more importantly, he's so interesting and appealing to me that he's now left me working the rest of the book around him. Which is a first for me, and brings me back to the question that started this blog.
The answer to which is clearly - no! It's great if characters start to dictate what goes on in a book, because that way they're living real lives, and so are rising from the paper to be genuine people. And if they're convincing you, as an author, that they're real, then they stand a much better chance of doing the same for your readers.
Back then to my new friend, (who, if you're interested, I'm currently giving a distinctive smell to - odours are very important in characters in my humble view. Most people have them in some way, and they can be highly evocative - in a good or bad manner.)
But before I go, a choice of favourite song for this rambling, and may I humbly propose Billy Joel's Piano Man. Because in just a few lines it creates a vivid sense of a character; his life, his plight, and his irresistible hopes.
Finally, don't forget if you've got a question you want to ask about the tvdetective books - or any area of my writing - or leave a comment, you can get in touch via the contact page of the site - www.thetvdetective.com/contact.html