I love it when my characters pull a jack move on me. There you are, proud as punch over your fancy outline, having carefully delineated what happens in Chapters 4, 5, and 6. Then, like the perfect Deist, you set events in motion, and step back, expecting all your characters to follow their scripts, to move in pre-ordained circuits, to interact as expected and behave as required for the Furtherance of the Plot.
Imagine your surprise, then, when one of your characters steps back, takes off their hat, scratches their head and decides to move in a different direction! Suddenly you’re staring at the screen in confusion, your characters running amok, everything falling apart.
Character A was supposed to have developed a crush on Character B. But B came across as a bit of a pompous ass, and now A is turned off and not at all interested in A as desired. Instead, she’s run off to her mother, who has convinced her to call in the military and attempt a forced evacuation so that she can be taken to a government lab and studied.
And you’re going, “What…?” Nowhere in the outline was there mention of a military evacuation. By this point Character A was supposed to be concocting a plan with B to prepare for Chapter 16, not standing a roof hoping that helicopters would soon be dispatched from the Neutral Zone to retrieve despite the peace edicts!
What on earth. But you know what? It’s kind of cool when this happens. Because it means your characters have developed enough internal logic and consistency, enough character to react in their own natural manner to what happens in the novel. What you thought at the outset might take place is suddenly bowing to the dictates of the character’s personalities.
So while B is left alone in his apartment, wondering where things went wrong, and A and her mother are trying to raise the hospital on their satellite phones, and the Chapter 16 outline has been tossed in the garbage, or at the very least retitled as ‘Chapter 19?!?’, you’re sitting there pleased as punch because hey, suddenly writing this novel has become a very, very interesting prospect once more.
That’s enough for tonight. Tomorrow I ascertain whether the folks at the Neutral Zone will be interested in sending some choppers in. I’ve got a feeling they very well might 😉