Every once in a while I get the idea that I am in charge. It isn’t a ludicrous thought. I am the writer. The books are mine. The characters are mine. (And by mine I mean mine and Stephanie’s. But you all get that. It’s just that all those ours and we’s get clumsy.) Anyway, it isn’t Stephanie who disabuses me of the thought that I am in charge.
It’s them—the characters, the ones who are really running this show. Sometimes I think they are just out there in an alternate universe, waiting to knock me down just when I think I am in control. It’s bad enough when a character I’ve planned, the one I know about, sidles up to me and says, “No. I’m not doing that. You can’t make me.” I can deal. I’ve learned to let them have their way because it really works out for the best.
What is really disconcerting is when a character rises from the swamp like some kind of misplaced southern Poseidon and says, “Here I am. You are going to need me.”
You see Stephanie and I are working on a new series. We sold on proposal this time so we’ve done what she has been trying to force me to do for years—sketched out the characters and somewhat plotted what’s going to happen. (I say “somewhat” because I am a pantser and can only go so far.)
The first book got off to little bit of a rocky start because I started in the wrong place. But it turned out fine. I didn’t lose what I had already written. It happens, just not first. It was going great. The heroine is determined and the hero, a country music superstar, has lost more than most people ever have. He is alone and emotionally bankrupt. He has no one.
Then along comes Dirk. Yeah. Dirk. You know him. He was the hero’s childhood friend and is head of security for the hero’s property. Dirk is cramping my style. He is bossy and has no regard for what I think needs to happen. And he certainly isn’t going anywhere.
Ah, Dirk. What am I to do?
Have you ever had a Dirk sneak into your story? How did you deal with him?