Characters Don’t Like Being Outlined

I no more try to outline the world and lives of the characters in my books than I would think I could sit down in childhood to outline my own life. These guys live and breathe. They have subtle changes of mood and might act differently in front of different people, which might then take the story somewhere else. I have had readers tell me they dream about some of the people in my novels.
So, I just start a few “fictional” characters going, and then watch how they develop and reveal their own lives. Fully prepared to lose a few of them along the way, move scenes and chapters around, and head off to explore something they themselves find suddenly interesting.
Others can write however they will, but I personally don’t keep catalogs of notes detailing where so-and-so stood on some issue yesterday, because he might change his mind on that issue today. And because telling myself I already know what this guy is about might tend toward confining him in cubbyholes he might not want to stay in. There are many layers and twists through each of our lives and personalities, and if this cannot be said of those who live in books, then these book people have not come fully alive.
If I am not startled and thrilled every few chapters by a sudden blast of “Wow! I did NOT see THAT coming!”, then I don’t see how readers could continue to find these stories anywhere near as exciting and full of surprises as they have.
I thrill to going back from the beginning to rewrite everything because someone has just popped in who shakes everything loose. And when I reach the end of first draft, I’d only fool myself to pretend I know what the story is really about, or where it will most definitely be taking us.
Because the characters are just getting warmed up.
– Edward Fahey.

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