Characters Are Like Children

Posted by on Jun 17, 2015 | 3 comments

Characters Are Like Children

It seems that if you’re the one doing the writing that the characters you create should behave the way you would like. That’s not always the case! If you’re a fiction writer, I would love to hear about your experiences with characters!



Wandering Wednesdays

Anyone who has written a novel, published or unpublished, will tell you that characters have a mind of their own. They take off in unpredictable directions. Sometimes characters introduce themselves in interesting ways, but even if you plot and plan their existence, they will do something to surprise you and leave you thinking, “Well, now what?”

When I began working on the sequel to my first novel using left-over scenes that never made it into the first book and tidbits from readers about what they wanted to see more of, I thought I was on easy street. I knew the characters very well, or so I thought. After all, according to my husband, they have been having dinner with us for about the last six years. I couldn’t have been further from the truth.

When I had two children twenty-one months apart, both suffering with ear infections while I battled a constant sinus infection, I asked my mother why she never told me it would be so hard. She answered that I wouldn’t have believed her and would have done it anyway. It’s the same way with my characters.

Now, I don’t want to give any spoilers. The book hasn’t even been submitted yet, though the publisher does know its coming. His working title for it is “Struck by a Sheep Truck,” so I put publishers in roughly the same category as characters. This time around, the characters I thought were nice, gentle, pliable people turned out to have a rebellious side and the characters who always gave me trouble decided to try and be nice. What is a writer supposed to do with that?

Non-writers will say, “You’re the writer. Make them do what you want.” I would submit to you that such a suggestion comes from someone who has a pat answer for what to do with a four-year-old who tells the grocery store checker who just called her pretty that she doesn’t want to be pretty. You can’t make characters behave any more than you can a preschooler or a teenager. It’s more like “fasten your seatbelts and hold on for the ride!”

I wrote a blog a few weeks back where I gave a character background sheet for designing everything from hair and eye color to how your character will react to various situations. I’m here to tell you that at some point in time they will shred it to pieces, throw it in your face, and do something totally out of order. I have set the manuscript aside and worked on something else, but no matter how long I waited, if they had it in mind to go against the storyline I planned, there was nothing I could do to stop them.

Did my book end up making the point that I planned? It did. Does it end the way I envisioned? It does. Do I like the way it got there? Well, I pitched it to the publisher and sent it to some friends to read. Somewhere along the way, I learned that what God wants from my book and how the characters decide to get there are out of my control. And just like my children, I love them anyway.

© Copyright Norma Gail Thurston Holtman

About the author:

Norma - LoMD 2014Norma Gail’s debut contemporary Christian romance, Land of My Dreams, set in Scotland and New Mexico released in April 2014. She has led weekly women’s Bible studies for 19 years. Her devotionals, poetry have appeared at, the Stitches Thru Time blog, and in “The Secret Place.” She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, FaithWriters, Romance Writers of America, and the New Mexico Christian Novelists. She is a former RN who lives in the mountains of New Mexico with her husband of 39 years. They have two adult children.

Connect with Norma:


Book trailer:







Book Links:


Barnes & Noble:

Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas Bookstore:



  1. One of the characters in your book needs a good temper tantrum. Just sayin’ 🙂 Great blog post! (I would tell you about my characters but they’re so life like I think you know them already … LOL!) 😀

  2. My characters don’t throw tantrums, but they definitely have a mind of their own. You never quite know which turn they will take at the next crossroads.

    • Thanks for stopping by, Ellie! Have a great weekend!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

Did you enjoy this?

If so, please help spread the happiness! Share this post with your friends!

%d bloggers like this: