When characters refuse to do as they are told

As writers, our best characters sometimes refuse to do what we want them to do.  They take on a life of their own.  Sometimes they even refuse to die.  Very inconvenient, that.

Asha is one such.  She is supposed to be a bit character in Ragnarök Willie, with enough scenes to warrant a name but who gets killed off in the big fight-the-frost-giant scene about 2/3 of the way through the book.  Honestly I could  have killed off her or her male sidekick, Mats, but the novel is long on strong female characters and short on males, so Asha takes that bolt of blue flame to the chest (Mats just runs away).

Except she refuses to die.  In the latest rewrite she declares that she’s Lasse’s bodyguard, and well, Lasse really does need a bodyguard to protect him from many of those strong female characters who want to kill him.  And Mats is a bit of a woos who won’t redeem himself until the finale, because that’s how stories work.

And this is not going to sit well with Kim, Lasse’s maybe girlfriend, who is already intimidated.  And if I don’t kill her, I can’t just kill Mats (see above–he grows a pair in the end) and I really need some deaths to up the stakes.  Not too gory, but still, the battle at the end of the world just can’t be casualty free.

So Asha is in limbo.  Maybe she dies. Maybe she gets to be Lasse’s bodyguard.  Maybe Kim gets really jealous.  Maybe she gets to be Lasse’s bodyguard, Kim gets jealous, and then Asha dies doing what bodyguards do, later on.  Hmm.

And yes this would be a spoiler, except, as the author, I just might change my mind again.  Or my characters will change it for me.  We shall see.

CR Hodges

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