Are the Inmates Running Your Asylum? Mary Deal Dishes on ‘Character Take-over’

Character Take-over


Mary Deal

Many writers do not understand exactly what it means when they hear someone speaking of a character taking over a story, or the story writing itself.

Character take-over happens when you are diligently writing along and suddenly you write something you know your character has to say. It just pops out of your head and you write it because you’re inside that character’s head. You’ve already developed your character sketch and know that character like a twin. You expect him or her to say such things but you don’t know how you conjured that surprising dialogue that is so apropos. Wherever it came from, it fit and makes the dialogue or story more exciting. Wow! Now you’re on a high and begin to type faster and faster as the story pours out

You don’t know where those words came from but your character feels more exciting and you have the feeling the words just popped out without you having to think about what to write. You ask, “Where did that come from?” That’s character take-over.

It’s nearly the same when your story begins to write itself.

You’re typing along, maybe even following an outline, when an idea comes into your mind that changes the direction of the story or is something so foreign to your way of thinking – but it is you creating your story and your mind is always searching around for ways to thicken the plot or add suspense – whatever. It happens subconsciously. All of a sudden it’s there. You might even make major changes in your story or chapter because a more appropriate idea hit you like a slap in the face and it fits your plot and your characters better than you had conjured before. This new idea may also open up parts of the story you had or may have trouble getting through.

All of a sudden, with these unexpected changes, you now see your plot being made more exciting. Your characters are more vivid. You type faster and faster. At this point I would suggest you open a new page and make note of what you received and about how it affects your story deeper into it. You do not want to lose this valuable story-livening information.

Character take-over or a story writing itself is YOU. Yes, it’s you having finally accepted your muse and turned the story over to your creative self. You are trusting your own abilities more, giving your creativity free reign. Don’t stop now!

A TIP: Your creativity, your muse, will cause character or story take-over when you have confidence in yourself and simply keep pounding the keys. Let the words pour out uncensored. Your mind has a way of creating the story elements you don’t yet know. That is, you know the structure of a good mystery and you have great characters established. But if you don’t know the details of how the crime will be committed or solved, or who may fall in love with whom, etc., trust your creative self to conjure these scenes by letting your imagination run rampant.

Please visit Mary Deal’s website for more wonderful articles like this one: Write Any Genre.

About Mike Angley

Mike Angley is the award-winning author of the Child Finder Trilogy. He retired as a Colonel from the Air Force in 2007 following a 25-year career as a Special Agent with the Office of Special Investigations (OSI). He held 13 different assignments throughout the world, among which were five tours as a Commander of various units, to include two Air Force Squadrons and a Wing. He is a seasoned criminal investigator and a counterintelligence and counterterrorism specialist. In his last assignment, he was Commander of OSI Region 8 with responsibility for all of Air Force Space Command. He’s fond of saying, “If it entered or exited Earth’s atmosphere, I had a dog in the fight!”
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