Pretty much the topic header sums up what this post is about today, but what I am really looking into talking about is whether you control your characters at all. Funny thing is lots of writers that are my friends like to just make up a character and stick them into an uncomfortable situation. From then on the character sort of controls the story, depending on their traits and who they are as a person etc. For me this does not work fully. Of course I let my character have his personality and I have him make the choices that he would but I actually just recently started working on outline and it made my life so much easier. My very first novel that I finished writing last year, sucked. I let the characters lead the way and the plot got very messed up. My main character was clueless about everything and the ending is for a different post completely. I am not saying that writing by pure instinct is at all bad by the way, it may work great for your guys and many other writers but for me it’s a no no I guess.
So when I decided to rewrite the book to make it perfect I ended up taking my lovely antagonist, placing him as the main character, removing most of the rest and outlining. I outlined every chapter in detail until the ending, even estimating the word count of every chapter and calculating it so that it would fit below 90,000 with a good ending. Because a bad ending will make agents scowl. Any ways this worked like magic for me. It made my life so much easier and I managed to follow the storyline perfectly (well I have 2 chapters to go to the end still…). Don’t get me wrong though, I add, I take away and it doesn’t turn out exactly like the outline, but the outline gave me a path to follow so that I don’t get lost. How about you? Do you like to give your characters the lead or take the lead yourself and plan their path out?