Saturday, October 23, 2010

Being too nice to both characters and cockroaches

Posted by: Cabin Girl Amber Carlson

Now, I'm going to tell you two stories. Please note the similarities between them.

Cockroach Gets a Free Ride

Today, at the end of science, I reached down to pick up my backpack and happened to notice the cockroach that scuttled under it. "Ok," I said, "But don't expect to be able to hide under that for long."

Yes, I actually said that. No, I'm not insane. I just talk to cockroaches.

When I picked up the backpack, the cockroach was gone. I shrugged, put my backpack on and walked to my next class.

The next time I opened my backpack I was surprised to see the cockroach sitting smugly on my folder. Of course, the moment it saw me, it scrambled deeper into the backpack. Once again, I shrugged, turning back to the teacher.

By the time I got home, the cockroach was gone. Oh, well, I thought. I hope it didn't get stepped on. If you think my worry about the cockroach was strange, you aren't alone. I told a friend about the cockroach on the bus home from school. She pretended to call the insane asylum.

Anyway, the moral of this story is don't be nice to bugs or people will put you in insane asylums. Just kidding.

Character Gets a Free Ride

I was writing a story. It was going well. The main character was going on an epic quest or something like that and my plot was looking fine. Then this other character popped randomly into a minor plot I was writing between the chapters. She completely took my story over. I just let her do it. She saved her kingdom, overthrew a corrupt ruler, and then turned back to me. "Ok, your turn."

Let's just say the rest of the story didn't pull itself back up to where it ought to have been.

I don't know what exactly I'm trying to say with this. One thing I know is that I tend to give things a free ride. And that's not always a good thing. I like cockroaches, and I like my character that took over, but there are places they belong, and places they don't. Neither belongs in my backpack. And neither ought to be messing up my story.


  1. I would absolutely freak out if there was a cockroach anywhere near me!!
    I know what you mean about characters just popping into stories though. Happens all the time. :) Good luck with your story!!

  2. I've only had a few close encounters with cockroaches and none of them were pretty. I have to hand it to you for staying calm each time! Yes, I agree with you. I just finished taking one of those pesky, fun characters out of my story because they were stealing the show. No more free rides! Great analogy!

  3. Ha! Being too nice is definitely a problem in stories - it's so hard because we love the characters, even the pesky ones that show up and steal the show. Maybe especially those. :)

  4. Hi, Amber. You're a whole lot braver than I. I would totally freak out if I saw that thing in there. *shudder*

    As for you minor character rebelling and becoming queen, well, I've had that happen to me. I just LOVED my character. I loved his look, his personality. Everything. But my story lost its mysticism. The element of dark romance was ruined. He took over five chapters. I cut those out and now I feel in control again.

    (Sorry, Angel, I'll give you your very own book a different time!)

    Thanks for the post!

    ~Elizabeth :)

  5. So, you are a cockroach whisperer? I love the idea of not letting minor charactes have a free ride. Great post.

  6. I think the free-riding characters can go either way. I was writing a story where a free-riding character came up and was a lot more interesting than the other guys I dreamed up, so I wrote from his perspective instead and I think it made the story overall a lot better.

    Then again, if you already have your story planned from start to finish, they can be a nuisance. I wouldn't want anything to ruin the lovely themes and intricacies I worked so hard to outline.

    This can go either way.


What be on yer mind?