Last week I began writing my third novel. I know! Exciting, right?
I don’t know about you, but writing the first draft of a novel is always a love-hate type situation. Mostly because I don’t plan my plot ahead of time.
Why, yes, now that you ask, I suppose that does contribute to the OBSCENE amount of editing I have to do after finishing the first draft. It’s just how I roll, yo.
Oh, I’ve tried to plan. I’ve outlined, I’ve done the Post-It note thing, I’ve tried whiteboarding… but you know what happens every single time I do this? After I carefully plot out every twist and turn of the story? I make it approximately three chapters in before I get slapped in the face by one of my characters.
It’s a CHARACTER COUP!
You know how this goes, right? You thought Toby the track star was going to be your MC’s love interest, but then all of a sudden Toby looks at you and goes, “Nah, I think I’m going to set the high school on fire instead and then spend the rest of the book stalking your MC.”
“No!” you cry. “Toby, just calm down, okay? You can’t do that. You’re supposed to be all shy and distant until Chapter 10, at which point you do this really heroic thing and win the reader over for good, and then in Chapter 21 the MC will realize she’s been in love with you all along.”
Toby shakes his head. “I don’t think so. I’d rather set the school on fire. I wanna be the bad guy.”
“But… but I outlined!” you stutter, staring at your hands like you can actually see the story slipping through your fingers.
“Too bad,” Toby says as he adjusts his leather jacket and lights a cigarette. Then he flicks you off and laughs as he walks away.
The Character Coup, my friends.
This happened to me with SYNTHESIS, my second book. And it came totally out of the blue. This guy I thought would be a love interest through the whole thing turned out to be a complete psycho and suddenly I had a villain on my hands. And you know what?
He was awesome as a villain. That Character Coup? It was the best thing that could have happened for the story. It was unexpected, totally creepy, and it broke the reader’s heart just a little bit – but not so much that they would be angry about it.
Which of your characters have staged a coup against you, and how have they done it? Did you see it coming or did it take you completely by surprise? I’d love to hear about it!