Allow Your Characters to Break Free
When we start thinking about a story, we have a vague notion of who our characters are, how they’ll act, and what the outcome will be. Writing the story is a matter of filling in the blanks of why, and when, and who else is part of it.
As most of us writers come to find out, our characters take us in directions we didn’t expect. We have to make a choice on whether to follow that character’s own ideas, or force it into our own pre-determined box for him or her.
What my characters were telling me
This morning on a run (of course!), I started thinking about all of the stories about fate, connection, and relationships that have been coming fast and furiously over the past few months. My feet found their rhythm, and my mind wandered. As I moved in and out of my short story visions, my characters started to interact with each other from other story lines.
At first, I was reluctant to even think about this because each story is independent of the others, and has character and story arcs that come to a nice conclusion.
But Jennifer, from “Sing Me a Poem”, was determined to be college friends with Sarah from “The Comeback”. Then Jennifer’s student Zoe, wanted to have Sarah mentor her.
Ok, I thought, that’s a plausible crossover. They can still be independent stories but have a small connection.
That’s when Tracy and Henry from “What the Fates Allow” thought it would be fun to have worked at the same place Jenna from “Serendipity’s Song” did.
Why I listened to them
And then it hit me! Maybe I wasn’t creating stories in a silo. What if my characters were telling me that they all belonged in the same world? What if each had a unique viewpoint of that world that needed to be heard and could best be told through their connections to each other?
The more I thought about it, the more sense it made. So, now, I apparently have a series. Each book will still be a really good standalone story, but now there will be an extra dimension and richness to the people who inhabit this world across the series.
I was loving writing these stories before I had this epiphany, but now I’m even more excited to see where this series goes!