Tuesday, March 27, 2012

When Characters Behave Badly …

Over the years I’ve heard other authors complain about a character surprising them, or acting out of character. I’ve nodded, related and then snickered silently. I mean, come on: We’re the creator; we have the ultimate control, right?


The Evil Within.

No, I’m not that snooty and as a panster – a writer who doesn’t plot often but flies by the “seat of my pants” – I’m used to characters taking over and leading me through the story. Maybe that’s why I feel so close to the main players in my erotic paranormal series, The Vampire, The Witch & The Werewolf. They’ve come to life. Literally, I hear their voices in my head. At this point, there are five primary: Lawrence, Trevor, Lily, Silver & Nick, with a few recurring supporters. Right now, Silver wants center stage, but I’m not working on her story.

Currently, I’m writing book 3: The Voodoo King. The problem I’ve run into is with a new character that refuses to listen, or act in a way that I deem appropriate. He’s downright evil, and I don’t want him to be. 

During the past two books, he’s been illusive, hiding in the background – as if he didn’t want to be known, yet. This time around, he’s using power to fuel his own greed, and in some instances feeding his own sexual amusement (and not in a good way).

Within this series, I’ve written some dark moments. In fact, good friend, fellow OCC/RWA writer and sometimes beta reader Bren Aubrey told me that she stayed up late – afraid – while reading the first book, A New Orleans Threesome. I didn’t purposely write it scary, but with Stephen King as one of my favorite authors I’ve always possessed a dark side.

It’s a tough situation, because I don’t want to make him do anything that would be contrary to his personality. Unfortunately, within life some people are simply evil. In fiction and films, readers and viewers tend to want a happy ending, not a reflection of real life. Bad things happen to good people.

For right now, I’m going to keep writing and hope that at the end he comes up with some additional complexity, a redeeming quality that ties it all together.

Until then, been there, done that? Any advice for me? 


  1. You know there is the trend of evil winning now. Let him have his reign....you may like it in the end. I know I will love it no matter what. You're right speaks to me as it does to others I am sure. Sometimes...its good to be bad.

  2. I've had several characters who were initially just walk-ons --- whom I needed to perform a simple function or to convey a single perspective which the other characters would not or could not handle.
    In several cases, they've demanded more screen time and I've had to write other scenes specifically to showcase them.
    And I LOVE it.

  3. Nikki -- Glad you can relate. Right now, I'm letting him "reign." Fingers crossed, it works out for the best!

    Jeff -- Sometimes these characters have a way of showing us writers the way. Thanks for commiserating!

  4. If you really don't like the direction he's headed, he may be the wrong character for the story. He might need a different, darker tale than the one you're trying for now. If so, rip him out and put someone more suitable in. If it really has to be him or you don't want to do the rewriting, kill off a secondary character and tell him he's next if he doesn't behave. Works wonders.

  5. Threaten him with death! I like it ...