A funny thing happened after I started the story, and don’t you want to know what that is? Of course you do. A while back I started a story. The idea was to collaborate with other writers. I’d write a chapter, they’d write a chapter and someone else would write and go around depending on how many people joined in. Turns out I wrote the first chapter and only one person wanted to write with me, the lady whose idea it was.
I see this as a learned lesson. We began with this simple idea, I write chapter 1, she writes chapter 2 and so on until complete. The problem, and as I’ve never done this type of writing before I could not have foreseen this problem, I got a little attached to my character. The issue came, when chapter 2 arrived and I read it. Let me say that the writing wasn’t the problem, as I perceived it, but we had set no ground rules. Ground rules being, genre. We’re both adults, but I generally write YA with the occasional venture into mainstream. My initial reaction to chapter 2 was that the story line was heading into adult, erotic.
We all have what we like to write, our comfort zone and occasionally expand our wings, this spread my wings a tad too wide. Let me say I did some homework, such as it is. Before we started I went to the other writer’s blog to read some of her work. The stories were well written, but I didn’t finish any of them, I just wanted a gist of her style. There in lies my folly. When I received chapter 2 I wasn’t comfortable with the direction hinted at. More important, I was a little protective of my character and felt the need to pull him to my chest hiding him in the comforts of my bosom.
Who knew this would happen? Not me. I saw the possible direction of the story and had a mother’s instinct to protect. I shut the program down wanting to keep my character from harm. This was not a particularly nice character, but that doesn’t matter, I shut my laptop lid and took a step away from my desk. How childish is that? After I’d taken a moment, I went back and read the chapter again. I still wasn’t liking the direction, but saw what I had before, potential in the writing ability. I don’t think of myself as a prude, though it’s been suggested before, I’m just not comfortable writing an adult theme. As a professional writer, letting a few days pass, I went back to the laptop and started chapter 3 with the decision to see this through…and stopped. It wasn’t in me to go from her chapter 2 and write a chapter 3. Unwilling to allow this character to join the dust bunnies under my bed, I wrote my own chapter 2 a week later. Telling myself that I would also write a chapter 3 for the other writer and let both stories unfold. I never did.
I apologize to that writer because a measure of the issue lies with me. The problem was bigger than just not being able to write an adult story, which is where I saw this going, I had become attached to my character, evil as he is. I felt protective of him. I wanted to shield him from…I wasn’t even sure what, but I needed to keep him safe. This is not my first character, I have any number of others, some of which I am deeply invested in and there is no real reason for my actions. He is, and those in my writing group who have heard this story will agree, a bad character. Maybe he is even the first really evil character that I’ve put in the forefront of a story. Either way, I’m still protective of him.
Do you have a character that you are overly attached to? Are you protective of them despite their evil actions? How would you react to one of your characters going off with another writer? Is this akin to allowing your children to grow up and become their own person? I wonder.