Current Project: NaNoWriMo 2009
Status: 13,258 words
Don't panic! That isn't me asking for your help (although, now that you mention it...wait, what?). Ahem, as I was saying, that's not me asking for your help. Oh, no. That's the sound of the characters in my head yelling at me.
In the past few days my characters have turned into whiny method actors, nitpicking every scene. Now it's, "What's my motivation here?", and "My character wouldn't do that!" I mean, really, you get boxed in a corner and throw in one lousy exploding llama* and it's all, "Now you're just making stuff up!".
I'll admit I've struggled with a couple of problem areas. The first is having too many things happen by coincidence. I don't want to write one of those books. You know the kind of book I'm talking about, where things happen just when they need to. Not as a natural consequence of a character's actions, but just because, well, the author needed something to happen and, hey, coincidences occur all the time, don't they? Not in my book, they won't! Unfortunately, that's easier said than done. It's so alluring, you know? When you've written yourself into a corner and there's an easy way out--why not take it? I now understand that temptation.
The second area I've struggled with is, yes, character motivation--the smaller, scene by scene motivations, not the big, this is my character's inner conflict motivation stuff. I mean, I tried to get my heroine to voluntarily walk through the interdimensional portal to an unknown fate, I really did. I told her her father was probably trapped on the other side somewhere. She didn't buy it. Said she was too smart to just assume stuff like that without a lot more proof and some hint of what she'd face--oh, and a means of, you know, returning! Fine, I said, I'll just have the damn device overload while you're fiddling with it and toss you across the portal (if you won't go voluntarily...). We bickered back and forth about the difference between an inciting incident and one huge coincidence (and somewhere in there is where the llama exploded). It wasn't pretty.
Come to think of it, maybe it's just one problem--too much coincidence!
We've come to a tentative agreement, my characters and I. I've promised to examine the motivation I give them in every scene and they've promised to stop yelling at me, at least until we get to revision. However, they've made it clear that if I throw in one more exploding llama* they won't be responsible for their actions.
How about you? Do you ever find yourself tempted to let something happen by coincidence in your plot? How do you resist?
*No llamas were exploded in the process of writing this post.