At a recent RWASD monthly meeting, Maya Banks talked about how she controls her characters and doesn’t wait for them to “speak” to her. Some authors believe in muses or characters controlling the story, while others think they need to take charge.

I’m more of the second persuasion. I feel I need to guide my characters and keep them on a short leash if the story’s going to head in the right direction. So imagine my surprise when I was writing Slayer’s Kiss and a brand new, unplanned character jumped off the page and grabbed me by the heart.

This is what happened: (And I’ll try to avoid spoilers. Oh, never mind. Consider yourself SPOILED!) Kara was in a scene in the middle of the book where she was witnessing behavior by a female of her species that was supposed to upset her. Specifically, a lady of the clan was mistreating a sex slave in her harem. The broken-hearted warrior was just a prop—on his knees in the dirt, naked and ashamed, with the last embers of his pride dying in his eyes. Kara was suppose see how horrible the woman was and come away thinking, I don’t want to end up like that. 

And then…Kara (and I) accidentally locked eyes with the dejected warrior—and named him Jaxon—and that was it. We were busting him out of there.  The hero was pissed, but he had to get over it. That very night, Kara adopted Jaxon into her own “harem,” and they became the best of friends. He’s such an integral part of her life now.

Maybe, despite my best attempts to control them, the characters took on lives of their own in Slayer’s Kiss—but I’m so glad they did. Last Friday, I submitted book two in The Shadow Slayers series to my editor at Samhain, and you know what that means? I get to start on book three now—a novella! This is Jaxon’s story and I’m so excited to give him his time to shine. After what he’s been through, he deserves it. 😉

What do you think? As a writer, do your characters ever surprise you? As a reader, do you mind when secondary characters worm their way into the heart of the story?

26 Responses to Off The Page And Into My Heart

  • My characters usually take me by the hand and lead me in the direction they want to go. When they don’t, then I’m staring at a blank page. Ideas will come into my head, but being a pantser, I don’t plot. I think that’s the reason my characters take over.

    Love your new blog.

    • cassicarver says:

      Thanks for visiting, Jannine! How fun for you to experience that regularly. I had never had that happen as strongly, and it was exciting! Maybe I’ll try to “pants” his novella, too. :)

  • Lisa Kessler says:

    Your blog looks beautiful!!! :)

    And this happens to me a lot… Part of the joy of being a Panster I guess!!! LOL

    I just turned in Night Demon a couple weeks ago and when I wrote that book, I wrote Gretchen thinking she was going to be killed off in the first chapter… After surviving three murder attempts, I realized she was going to be the heroine and save my hero and the world! :)

    Who knew?

    So I think it’s a great thing when the characters take over and run with it…

    Congratulations on your upcoming release & good luck with the novella!

    Lisa :)

  • Jinhee says:

    Yay, your first blog! I enjoyed reading it!
    Thanks for sharing!!!

  • Great first post, Cassi! I love when my characters surprise me. That said, I’m an extreme plotter with spreadsheets and everything. I have to have a roadmap, but love some of the scenic detours that have sprung up.

  • Janet L Tait says:

    Great post! I love it when my characters act just bit unpredictably. It makes writing so much more fun. I don’t let them hijack the plot, but I do let them be themselves. Otherwise, where’s the joy of writing?

    • cassicarver says:

      Hi, Janet! Sometimes I think the unpredictable stuff turns out well because our subconscious knew the story needed it. And regarding the joy, I agree! Even us plotters have to be flexible and open to new ideas so we don’t lose interest in the story before it’s finished. :)

  • Kathy Krevat says:

    Congrats on your first blog! I enjoyed reading it!

  • Melissa says:

    As a reader, I love it when a secondary character catches my interest, and I do a little research only to find that character gets his or her own story told, too. That’s like striking gold, in my book. I’m so excited that Jaxon gets his time in the sun.

  • cassicarver says:

    Heehee. You commented as a reader. I love it! And I also know you love secondary characters in your own contemporary romance novels because of the spin-off/series potential. It’s just more to love!! :)

  • Okay, I have to say that I’m such a sucker for harems. And if you put a paranormal spin on it… SOLD! ; )

    Love the look of your blog and looking forward to your stories!

    • cassicarver says:

      Thanks, Chris! I think secondary characters can create wonderful opportunities in a series. Along similar lines, I loved the way you worked in a character from Vampire Babylon into your Bloodlands series. That is so cool for readers! :)

  • Angela M. says:

    I love the header pic, and the blog is very streamlined and easy to read. Well done! Don’t forget to add a page for your book info and probably disable comments except for your posts.

    Wish I could plot sometimes, but I couldn’t if my life depended on it. I’m a die-hard pantser. LOL, one of my characters is named Jaxon, too :) He doesn’t take center stage, though, but I had two secondary characters in my first ms who leaped out and took it. One became the fmc in a second book in the trilogy and the other became the mmc in the third book. Funny thing is the first book was supposed to be a standalone. Somehow, the other characters demanded more books in the series to make the story complete. Sometimes, a character just hooks you the right way. I really love it when that happens!

    Can’t wait to read the books!

    • cassicarver says:

      Those are some great suggestions. I’ll look into doing that. Thanks! I tried to pants my first two books, and they ended up long paths to nowhere. So now, I plot heavily and pace it like the building’s on fire. 😉

      I can’t believe you have a “Jaxon” too! Even spelled the same way? That’s too funny! Thank you for stopping by!

      • Angela M. says:

        His name is spelled the same, but everyone calls him Jax except one character I have who never shortens anyone’s name.

        I’m trying to learn how to at least pseudo-plot to make things go smoother. Maybe some day… *sigh*

        • cassicarver says:

          Well, I love his name! You have good taste. 😉

          Most of my friends are pantsers, and they write some great stuff! I guess you just have to know what works for you. I can’t bring all the puzzle pieces together that way, but I wish I could. The freedom that style of writing offers is pretty cool! :)

  • Georgie Lee says:

    I wish I could keep my characters on a short leash and tell them where to go. I’m a panster so I have to wait a little for characters to talk to me. But one day, I will find a way to control them bwaaahhaaahaa :-)

  • Linda Mc says:

    The blog looks great. It’s easy to read….not too “busy” which is a good thing. Love the post too. Makes me want to read the story, and read more about Jaxon.

  • You named him. That’s the problem. 😉

    I did the same thing in my last book. I invented a character with “no greater purpose”, but he weaseled into my heart and gave himself a name. Now I’m wondering how to fit his story into the series arc.

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