Writing has always been my passion. My best childhood memories are of floating on an inner tube in the middle of the lake during the heat of summer—my best friend and collaborator, Jami, floating next to me. We’d giggle and splash and dream up characters and plots, talking incessantly about all the adventures our fictional beings would have. The possibilities seemed endless. No idea was too silly or too small, and even the most unconventional storylines were given due consideration. (Or at least as unconventional as a pair of preteen girls can be.)
For me, creating a character and watching how his or her distinctive personality unfolded was fascinating. Crazy as it seems, it wasn’t long before I’d set myself aside and let the characters mold the story. How would the heroine react to this obstacle? What would the hero do in this situation? Will they ever find their happy ending? Letting characters evolve outside of the storyline always had an interesting impact on the plot. Often, it led to unexpected twists and turns that weren’t originally part of the story.
That is certainly true with the writing I do today. Before sitting down to write, I outline each story and carefully consider each character. I know how the story starts and I know how it (should) end. Yet, somewhere, somehow, my characters take on a life of their own. All my well-laid plans are suddenly in danger as unforeseen problems pop up: The heroine would never get herself in that situation! Would the hero really do that?? How can I ever get them back on track???
It’s a bit frustrating when my own fictional characters derail me.
It happened in my debut novel, An Inconvenient Kiss, a regency romance set in British India. The heroine, Georgiana Phillips, is fiercely determined to be independent…so much so that she frequently becomes her own biggest obstacle. Because Georgiana’s character grew even more feisty and headstrong than I’d originally envisioned, the hero, Simon Ashford, really needed to keep up. Thankfully, Simon developed a great sense of humor and a healthy dose of grit. Still, their path to romance wound up being more, well, adventurous than originally planned.
I’ll admit it’s not always an easy way to write. There were ideas and storylines I really wanted to include that just didn’t fit with Georgie and Simon’s personalities—and there were even a few moments when I worried they’d never make it. In hindsight, however, I think the story is better for letting the characters run a little bit amuck.
And it leaves material for new characters who will undoubtedly run off with my carefully outlined plans and make them their own.
Do you ever have to modify projects because you’ve sabotaged your own ideas? If so, has the outcome been better or worse for it?
About the Author
Caroline Kimberly has spent most of her life making up stories to help offset the daily grind. It wasn’t until she was in graduate school, however, that she realized she wanted to write for a living. Since then, she’s worked as a newspaper reporter and as a copy editor for a children’s book publisher. Historical romance has always been her favorite genre, however, and brainstorming romantic romps makes her life as a soccer mom much more interesting.
She lives in Minnesota with her very patient husband, two busy daughters and three lazy cats.
For more information about Caroline, please visit her website at http://carolinekimberly.com/.