Ain't Misbehavin' (Melissa Robbins)

Mistakes in writing.  Made them and some I didn’t know I did, but today, I am posting about the mistakes our characters make or letting our characters make.  I can’t remember where I found it, but someone wrote don’t ‘parent’ your YA characters.  As a parent, I need to allow my kids to fail so they learn from their mistakes.  In my crazy mind, my characters are like my kids, so the same theory applies to them, and like my kids, some misbehave more than others (more about that in a minute.)   Think back to many YA characters.  Where were the parents?  Would you let your kids get away with many of the ‘adventures’ those kids got into?   You wouldn’t have much of a story if your characters did what they were supposed to do.  My husband said he could never be a writer because he couldn’t imagine his characters to doing stupid stuff.   

            So what is a writer to do?  Let your characters fail, even if it breaks your heart to see them hurt.  We have all screamed at the TV, “Why did you do that!?”  Use those emotions you feel toward your characters’ feelings.   There’s that GMC (goals, motivation, and conflict) rearing its ugly head.  It is times like this that I prefer mystery writing over romance writing.  I want my characters to be in love, not fighting or apart because of some world war, but that stuff really happens/happened, so you have to do it. 

            Back to my characters misbehaving.  Reminds me of the B-17 ‘Ain’t Miss Behaven’ (there were several ‘Ain’t Miss Behavens’ by the way). It’s funny to me how characters can take on lives of their own.  Not parenting them can be rewarding.  They know better than us, sometimes, but then as parents, I mean writers, we have to interfere when things get really out of control and nudge them in the right direction.  I have one pilot (not my hero) that’s so naughty, he corrupted my heroine and I had to rewrite an entire chapter and one scene.  I know what you’re thinking.  That corruption could be good story telling, but no, they both carried on completely out of character.  Okay, maybe my pilot acted like he feels (he can’t help it, he’s wicked that way), but not my heroine. 

            That’s the joy of storytelling, unlike real life, even if our characters do major mistakes, they get giant do-overs.  In the end, it all works out for our characters.  At least, I hope it does.  Torture your characters, but for the sake of my heart, give me a happy ending. 

**side note – The B-17 ‘Ain’t Miss Behaven’ of the 452nd bomber group was named by the pilot Oliver Wright, because of his newly marital status just before the crew went to England.**


Reese Mobley said...

Great post, Melissa. I'd never thought about our characters as children, but you're 100% right. Sometimes they just need a time out. Oh, wait, that's me. Sorry.