Do you ever find that the characters you write start taking on a life of their own. In the project I've just written one of my characters started becoming a whole lot more sinister than I had initially intended and in my current work I've had to find a way to put a side character into a more prominent role as she developed so much in the one chapter she was supposed to be in that I want to do more with her.
Characters do not exist apart from their creator (at least up until the point when they have been written) any more than their creator exists apart from themselves. Except that last part is tricky, because there are neurologic functions that exist apart from our conscious minds, so in a way, a character can exist outside of what you think you've done with them but not outside of what you actually have done with them. If that makes any sense.
So it really comes down to a long process of learning to use characters as a sort of negotiation between your conscious and unconscious thought processes. If you completely force a story, it'll come out flat and hollow, but if you never learn to understand and to temper the things that you learn from your characters, then it comes out incomprehensible and sort of divorced from itself.
I've written a few who've just pulled different ideas out of me regarding situations, and then I realize halfway through writing them that my original concept was crap and I rewrite them entirely.
I remember the first time this happened to me, I was writing a shitty high school fantasy thing and my protagonists were a mild, timid boy; a girl with a strong-a** personality and an emo kid.
Halfway through the first act, I realized that I'd been writing the "tired hero" character for so long - and that I was having trouble balancing the storyline because the girl was driving it all, when I wanted the focus on the guy.
So I went back, deleted the tired hero and rewrote him as a brash, reckless and loud kid. The girl kept her personality, but naturally I had to adjust how she acted and reacted to the hero. And the emo kid turned into an emo-geek, who was a blast to write, because he tried to be so badass, but couldn't do it at all.
I retained some tired hero characters, but shifted them to roles which suited their personality better.
So, yeah. I've definitely had characters who've done that to me. It's so much fun, because when it works, it works. And it's fun to have to go through a draft again and figure out what and how changes in response to the character's new personality.
When my characters begin to develop what seems to be a "life of their own," as you've aptly put it, I often join them for the ride to see where they go. In my experience, when creating a character, I have a rough idea of what I want them to be. I don't develop every single detail from the get go. Instead, I find it is easier to give them a name, then let that name create its own "personality" so to speak. Then again, I'm one of those writers who writes what is on their mind, rather than plotting everything out. It means a lot more work when it comes to editing, but I love it when my mind surprises me.
Oh, without a doubt.
My boyfriend and I agree this is why writing is a socially acceptable form schizophrenia.
There have been times when I have a character and they grow and form and change in ways I never expected them to.
In my head I had once created a polite, kind and courteous little boy who'd have a run in with a gang of grubby orphans.
In creating their story and letting their dialogue run away with me he began to change.
As if to say "Yes, you've made me polite, but you've also made me a character of higher standards. A proper gentleman would act like this."
Sometimes my characters overcome me.
I had once attempted to write out the emotions of one of my OCs as based off a song.
Listening to they lyrics, they so greatly described how this character would feel, and as the song grew more dark and desperate so did he.
I could see his struggle, his depression, in my head.
The lyrics, the emotions, it was all so powerful, it was as though my OC ripped open his heart and allowed me to peer inside and his feelings overcame me.
I felt his panic, his confusion his depression, it was one of the most powerful moments in writing I had ever experienced
And I hadn't even been able to write down a single word.
It's just your own imagination that's running rampant. Your characters are merely a medium through which you're expressing these creative thoughts. If you lose control of them and they "gain a life of their own" that just means you need to create more characters to fulfil your new thoughts. Or don't. It could give your character more depth. Up to you really.
Going from the replies I've had I can see this isn't just me, which I'm glad to hear. Although as people have pointed out I realise it just stems from parts of my own imagination and that's what worries me. Seeing how some of my characters seem to play out makes me wonder about the state of my own mind. Probably didn't help that I was writing about an insane asylum when this phenomenon first came to my attention.
Yes. With my recent work, I tried to write with a male main character. Out of the ten major characters, seven are male, but still a female character is the centrepoint main character. She just managed to worm herself into more and more scenes, until I ended up changing all the planning to make her the main focus.
All parts of a story can be tricky like that. You have an idea for something, but then it starts to morph and change as you play around with it. Characters become more developed, events unfold that you never expected. I always see writing more as an expedition than as a project to create. While the readers will learn something new as they read, sometimes you do too as you write.
I had one character who I initially expected to be a sort of Manic Pixie Dream Girl, but when I finally started writing her dialogue, she came off more as a tsundere. Ultimately I just ran with it.
Yes, I've written many characters that are very vivid, lively, and life-like graphic! But usually, it's the writer that creates the character's characteristics, appearance, and personalites. Other than that, it's normal to develop your characters more!
Quoting a friend here...
"If you have voices in your head, you're schizophrenic. If you write what those voices say on paper, you're an author."
Me and my friend both write, and we have come to the conclusion that this statement is true. So, to answer your question, yes, characters develop lives of their own. My characters aren't even thought up. They are just...there. And if I don't write their stories down, they drive me crazy. biggrin