Try telling a non-writing friend that you have no control over your characters. They look at you as if you’ve lost it – if they know you really well, they’ll tell you so.
‘There’re not real people Julie, you made them up,’ one said recently. My response was a small self-effacing smile and a fervent hope that no one from my manuscript was listening.
My most unsettling experience to date involved a murder suspect who explained to me in the middle of his confession why he couldn’t have done it. Necessitated a virtual re-write.
In my first published novel the main character did something at the end of the book for which I still haven’t forgiven her. In fact I shouted at her as my fingers flew over the keys but it was too late and of course she knew best – it was the perfect twist, albeit a little startling for the reader and indeed the author.
Every author will build a unique relationship with their characters. I have found a way that works for me. I encourage them to evolve in my mind and once they have reached a degree of virtual sentience, the characters write their story through their own emotions, words and actions.
Now I’ve accepted the inevitable I just sit back and let them get on with it. It’s only when they start bickering with each other that things turn nasty.