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Manipulation or Creativity?

I’m struggling along with Book 3, manipulating plots and running my characters through various emotional/physical guantlets because, hey, I’m a writer. Being a Master of Pain (physcial, emotional, slight or devasting) is in our DNA. So here’s my question for the week…as writers or creators (depending on your POV) are you manipulating your characters to get what you want or are the manipulating you? And is manipulation the right word or is it another aspect of creativity?

I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m a complete pantser–I shuddered at the concept of an outline, but I do have to have major plot points like massive “You are going in the right direction” signposts. Here’s the probelm…the journey between signposts can be a well delinated path or a big black hole of chaos. I’ve found over the years that I’m a character driven writer–they are the ones who direct the story, drive the plots and are the basis for the horrific twists and turns they encounter.

My characters do not always like me and I’m pretty sure both Raine and Xander have a photo of me somwhere where in they practice various throwing skills with lethally sharp implements. I’m okay with that (most of the time) but sometimes I think they get their own back by jerking me around on a creative leash. I shouldn’t complain, because I love writing my stories. But some days it makes me want to pull out my hair and chase them down with my own sharp pointy weapon (a huge fountain pen dipped in red!).

My point to ponder this week: who’s manipulating who in the creative process and is it really such a bad thing?’

Wicked

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14 Comments

  1. ROFL! I Love Thursdays! You always make me smile. I totally say that my characters manipulate me…even if I have something planned for them. If they feel that what I have planned isn’t right, they let me know and I have to rework everything on their whim. I’m a little more of a plotter, but once the story starts…..no rules apply. The plot points are just my suggestions too them. 🙂

    In my latest WIP I had a small character who was just supposed to be a cook, one or two bland conversations with the main character, no big deal, right? Yeah, so apparently he felt he didn’t have a big enough part and now has somehow made himself a huge and integral part of the entire plot. Oh, and he let me know that he was a dragon too, which had not planned on before. LOL. So I totally get the hair pulling, sharp pointy weapons, and let me add in a little head banging on the wall for good measure.
    Hugs,
    Krystal Shannan

    Reply
  2. I believe that, like anything in life, there is no black and white, only varying shades of grey. When it comes to the question of outlines or not, it only mattes what shade you work toward but then the story will always shade it a little on its own; sometimes one way or the other and at varying moments. That is how a story gets colored, it doesn’t so much matter who is driving, just that it is driven.

    Reply
  3. Aw, thanks, Krystal! I hear you. Those pesky characters don’t take kindly to playing second fiddle–they become divas, demanding their time in the spot light. I think it’s one of those perks of being a writer–the journey is always so unexpected!

    Reply
  4. I agree with your Writer’s Codex. I think each writer needs to find what works best for them. I’ve tried outlining and I find it makes me feel like I have to have follow it, which then makes my Muse snarl and stalk out of the room, cursing a blue streak. Through trial and error, I’ve found having certain signposts help keep the story on track.

    Reply
  5. LOL, you are my kind of writer. I am also such a pantser and cringe at the thought of an outline. My Characters are for the most part; strong willed with massive powers. They live in my head and scratch to get out at all hours of the day and night. If it sounds like I am complaining. Far from it. I stand back and let them lead, all the while guiding them (when they let me). I do not consider it manipulating, but rather creativity at the highest level. Like babysitting willful children.
    I am working on book 2 in the Cottonwood series and I know I have a lot to learn about this wonderful craft of writing.

    Reply
  6. I have the same struggle, except, I typically write a detailed outline and then find that my characters have other plans. I end up having to completely rework things in order to satisfy my characters. And sometimes, I REALLY want to bend them to my will, but when I do, I take away who they are. Then, I often end up scraping that work.

    Reply
    • Soooo, why spend all the time on the outline. You may be a panster trying to be an outliner. Good luck, go for it. Linda

      Reply
  7. This is a fantastic post. It is so interesting to read how other authors work. All the other info is great too. I will definitely bookmark this. Thanks for your great post.

    Reply
    • Hi Brad. I am a pantser, although I do delve into the characters and their backgrounds. I don’t like outlines as my characters scratch to get out and then they lead me around until I say, “enough!” then I manipulate them for a bit. So, I feel both are a form of creativity anyway you want to look at it. I am an explorer and a planner. Why can’t you be both???

      Reply
  8. Great feedback everyone! You’re so right Brad, it is wonderful to get peeks into the writing process of others. I think that to find what works for you and your muse requires taking some risks and trying things-especially things that you wouldn’t normally do. As long as you write your story–which is the most important thing anyway! How you get there is all up to you!

    Reply
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