When Characters Mutiny

I’ve got my plot outlined. World-building done. Research underway. Character bios are complete. Despite the distracting news on the television, I’ve written 23k words. I’ve got a cover concept, a rough draft of a blurb. Things are sailing along.

Then…

One of my minor characters, Briar, has decided to stage a mutiny. He has a cutlass pointed at my progress, and he’s walking it up the plank.

He’s called a meeting on the quarter deck of the Windwraith. All the main characters are there, wondering why the wind in our sails suddenly died. I leave the helm and join them, arms crossed as I lean on the mizzen mast.

Briar’s pacing, eager to explain his reasons for the summons. He looks right at me. “Listen, Peach, this course you’ve charted needs some revising.”

I roll my eyes. Here we go again.

“Hear me out,” he says. “I think you’re making a mistake if you let the ferryman throw me overboard in Chapter Six.”

“Hmm,” I reply.

“You might not have meant to do it, but you’ve made me interesting. I’m nuanced.” He turns to address the rest of the crew. ”Okay, I’m a little lazy and a bit of a bully, but I have a heroic side.”

The crew chuckles as he faces me. “I’m actually younger than you first envisioned me, and I have startling blue eyes. I’ve also got all my teeth, which you can’t say for Kezo.”

The first mate smiles at me, flashing his gold tooth. I groan inwardly at the clinches. Those are coming out as soon as this irksome rebellion is over.

Briar grins. “You made me the perfect choice for some romantic tension with Marissa.”

I glance at Marissa. She shrugs. “Fine by me. It’s not really a romantic story anyway.”

“Wait,” I say. “Before you all get carried away. I’m eleven chapters in. You’re asking for some significant revisions here. If I give Briar the role, what do I do with Kellin? He was supposed to fall for Marissa.”

Briar makes a pffting noise. “That kid is too young, too naïve.” He gives Kellin an apologetic wince, then puts the blame on me. “It’s just not the right story for him. He’s like a little brother. Marissa would never fall for him. The relationship will feel forced. Your readers won’t believe it.”

Kellin sighs and rakes back his flyaway blond hair. “I kind of agree with him. You wrote me about four years too young.”

I’m tempted to argue that I wrote him exactly the way he is, but it’s not the time for a chicken/egg debate with a bunch of mutineers. And to be honest, I kind of agree that Kellin isn’t strong enough for the part.

“You know, Kellin,” I say, “if I make this change, I’ll have to kill you off.”

Briar puts on a sad face as shallow as a tide pool. “Instead of rescuing him in Chapter Eight, you could have him get shot with a pistol, fall into the sea, and drown.”

Kellin frowns at the suggestion. “She doesn’t have any pistols in the story.”

“She has to revise anyway. She can add them in.” Briar leans against the gunwale, his case made.

I narrow my eyes at him, feeling a bit shanghaied, but he’s made a few good points, and the changes feel right. None of the crew looks miffed. Even Kellin seems to understand that his death would make a better story. He’s a nice kid… Readers will feel the loss.

“Fine,” I say. “I need to go back and plot the changes before we sail any farther into the Deep. Shore leave is cancelled until we’ve caught up.” I gesture to the first mate. “Brace about. We’re changing course.”

As the big man takes the wheel and bellows orders to the crew, I retreat to my cabin. I log into Word and scroll back to Chapter One. Then I open the internet and look up everything I ever wanted to know about flintlock pistols.

(Names have been changed to minimize spoilers).

Do your characters do this to you?

205 thoughts on “When Characters Mutiny

  1. It is their story after all, and when they take over it brings that story so much more alive. Even though it may be annoying to us daring to think we had their story plotted.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I couldn’t agree more, Rebecca. Briar is still editing his story as he makes himself more and more relevant. Ha ha. I love it when characters buck the system. I love the surprises and, yes, how alive the story feels. Thanks for the visit!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This post is highly imaginative and entertaining. I wish my characters talked to me the way yours do. It requires your patience, but…WOW.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, David. My characters rarely mutiny, but they do let me know when something needs to change. My muses are rather bossy too, come to think of it. I’m so glad you enjoyed this and I hope you got a laugh. Have a wonderful Sunday and week ahead.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. See what happens when I start writing again. I miss awesome posts like this one. (If I did read it, I don’t remember. 🤔) I’m on Blair’s side…but he has to know who is boss. My characters do this all the time, and it’s precisely why my latest heroine chose the man she chose. I don’t envy you going back to Chapter One, but I know one of your muses will make sure you get it right. Happy Writing. Stay warm.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I read this before, Diana and must have been so tickled by it all that I forgot to leave a comment. Or I may have gone brain dead. That’s happening more and more lately. ;( I’m sure you have everyone under control once again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha ha. Yes, everyone is “on board” and we’re headed in the right directions. Lol. Thanks for the comment and no worries. I can completely relate to absentmindedness, and even so, no one has time to comment on everything. I’m glad it entertained. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  5. CarolCooks2 says:

    I’m definitely like the white rabbit lately…sigh…I love how your characters speak to you and with such clarity and aplomb …mine are not…maybe I should open the channels wider…Love this post and comments ..Ahhhh before I get sidetracked…sigh …Thank you for following CarolCooks2 …xx

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Absolutely they do. My character Majeska was so strong-willed she took over Book Two and booted out the Protagonist, Gabrell, who was the clear hero in Book One. She took on the high conflict of her world and it changed everything. And yes, someone unexpected had to die for it too. (Secret Order of the Overworld, my first novel) No regrets from the author. It worked out correctly and with great emotional depth that wasn’t imagined in the planning.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha ha. I knew that there would be authors with similar experiences, Sheri. I actually love it. The characters feel like real people and the story feels organic. And I agree, they’re usually right when then take a stand! Thanks for commiserating! Happy Writing.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Arthur Rackam is a great choice for a backdrop.

    Like

  8. […] author friend, #fantasy writer, Diana Peach, who mentioned in reply to my comment I’d left on her recent post when she shared about how one of her characters in her WIP sometimes directs where the story […]

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Chel Owens says:

    I’m surprised they didn’t complain at the cancelled shore leave. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. You’re such a soft-hearted captain who makes the democratic decision on the crew’s welfare! They should be grateful to you and delighted to be recruited! Tell them you’ll do your part to investigate the issue and only go back from chapter 1 once. After that, they must be obedient and say, “madam,” “please,” and “thank you” for the rest of the sail.

    Very funny and entertaining, Diana. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Miriam. It’s funny but the crews are all getting a little more pirate-ish since this post. LOL. Their personalities are coming out. We’re on track. About 1/2 way through the first draft and having lots of fun trying to outwit the bad guys. Have a wonderful Sunday, my friend. Hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Annika Perry says:

    Diana, only your characters would stage a mutiny! Great depiction of how our characters can take over the plot … wonderful post and happy researching!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve made most of the changes to what I’ve already written, Annika. Now I’m moving forward again and trying to work Briar into the narrative in meaningful ways. He’s a real “thorn.” Ha ha. I’m glad you have the same sense of characters trying to take over. Despite the extra work, I love it because it makes the story feel alive. Happy Writing, my friend. ❤ ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  12. […] When Characters Mutiny […]

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  13. […] When Characters Mutiny […]

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  14. I can relate. I’m currently trying to write a fantasy novel and at the moment I feel like throwing all of my characters overboard. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  15. This is pretty much how Reaper went from being a minor annoyance to Kestrel, to a much more interesting character.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha ha ha. I remember both characters, Cheryl. Isn’t it funny when this happens? It makes for extra work, but also a better story when the characters get to be themselves. 🙂 Thanks for the visit and comment. I hope you’re doing well and writing up a storm. 🙂

      Like

  16. Prior... says:

    now i am really wondering more about this cool pistols
    fun post D

    Liked by 1 person

  17. That’s great Diana. I love this post.
    xoxoxo…

    Liked by 2 people

  18. This whole thing is wonderful. I love this: “You might not have meant to do it, but you’ve made me interesting.” 😀

    And, yes, my characters do this to me all the time. I’ve learned not to argue and just go with it. That said, I’ve nothing to show for it except a boatload of manuscripts in desk drawers.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. mydangblog says:

    Well, you know what they say–if you can’t change the direction of the wind, adjust your sails!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’ve never heard that particular metaphor. That’s perfect, Suzanne. Yes, I’ve adjusted my sails and the story is heading close-hauled into the wind. 🙂 This change of course doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it’s pretty eye-opening. Thanks for the visit and great comment. Happy Writing!

      Liked by 1 person

  20. This is a very entertaining post, Diana. My characters don’t do this but my developmental editor, Esther does. A Ghost and His Gold started off as a 20 000 word short story. Esther got hold of it and gave me some great ideas. It grew to 115 000 words. Then I gave it to her again and had to fill in some holes and re-write the ending [actually changing the ending was my mother’s idea]. Two years later, A Ghost and His Gold is due to launch on 8 February.

    Liked by 3 people

  21. Hurllooooo says:

    Hahahaha I absolutely love this-

    Liked by 3 people

    • I’m glad you enjoyed this. It happens to me a lot – though usually not to this extent! It took me 6 days of writing to make most of the changes, so I’m now back on track. 🙂 Thanks for the visit! ❤

      Like

  22. DutchIl says:

    Thank you for sharing!!… change is the law of life…. does one shoot a handicapped person because that person cannot do what one expects that person to do, No, one looks for that person’s strengths… perhaps one should look for Kellin’s strengths instead of shooting him… just saying… 🙂

    Until we meet again..

    May love and laughter light your days,
    and warm your heart and home.
    May good and faithful friends be yours,
    wherever you may roam.
    May peace and plenty bless your world
    with joy that long endures.
    May all life’s passing seasons
    bring the best to you and yours!
    (Irish Saying)

    Liked by 3 people

    • Ah… an interesting comment. Certainly if this was real life, Kellin would find love, usefulness, and happiness in my book. But I have villains and a plot full of bad choices, people trying to do the right thing, to make up for past mistakes, and build a better life. Also like real life. 🙂 Thanks for the lovely poem too.

      Liked by 2 people

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