The Unrepentant Character

The difficult one. The problem child. The-how-the-heck-did-he/she-turn-out-that-way individual. 

We’ve all encountered them, whether reading or writing. It’s that character you’ve already pre-determined is going to act a certain way, but who ends up doing the opposite. I like creating flawed characters, and that blurs the line. My hunky heroes aren’t always heroic. Sometimes they’re selfish, unreasonable or need-a-kick-in-the-butt annoying. My clever, feisty heroines have been known to get in over their heads and do something stupid. Who doesn’t?  They grow as I grow.

Check.  I can live with that.

But what about villains?  They’re the ones that surprise me.  For the most part, I know what makes the bad guy tick and I stick to the plan but, occasionally, one of them puts his or her foot down and decides to do something unexpected. Something decent.

I have a character in my current WIP that I intended to be irredeemable.  Halfway through, I realized he wasn’t all that bad. That his unique way of looking at things was growing on me and, that for all his irritating characteristics, I liked him.  I’m still trying to figure out how that happened.

When I sat down and wrote the opening scenes of Myth and Magic, I set him up to be a bad guy but he had other ideas.  So I let him take the steering wheel to the end of the road.  He still has all those less-than-perfect qualities I dumped on him at the start, but I like the depth he developed.

Was I disappointed? Hardly. Was it the first time it’s happened?  Pff! It still catches me by surprise, but I’m more than happy to concede to my characters when they’re focused.

What about you?  Whether you’re reading a book or writing your own, do you like it when a character forces you to change your opinion, or do you try to keep them pigeonholed as long as possible?

Unrepentant characters have no qualms about upsetting the applecart!

4 thoughts on “The Unrepentant Character

  1. So you’ve had that experience too, Sheri? Our characters definitely have a mind of their own sometimes, refusing to be manipulated in the way we had planned. Always an eye-opener. I’ll be intrigued to see what happens with your WIP and the character change. Thanks for reading and commenting! 🙂


  2. For me, I don’t know why, maybe because I haven’t written a lot of original fiction yet, and not enough bad guys to have this happen to me. But– I’m sure it will! The ones I’ve written always had something happen to them early in life, that I present to readers as the thing that has turned them out, and hoped my readers would have some understanding or sympathy for them. I do though have a very nasty character in one of future books– who would surprise the heck outta me if he went off and did something ‘good’.

    I’m very eager to see who this character is of yours in Myth and Magic and what is this thing he did to to mess with you. Hah!

    Sounds like a great twist, Mae. Can’t wait!

    I agree– great post!


    • Thanks, Venice! And I know that sooner or later you’re going to run into that same surprising “huh?” when a character does a turn around on you. I’m intrigued about ‘the very nasty character’ and the ‘future book.’ You know I’m always up for reading whatever you’re penning!


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