Out of Character

I’ve mentioned before that in my current revisions of Epic Novel, I’m using a second POV character. At first, everything went smoothly. He was so much fun to write because he was different and because I knew exactly what he wanted: revenge. Then things started working out not so well. He kept acting out of character. He was actually being nice to people. He almost seemed to care about them. HOLD IT! Isn’t he trying to kill them? I mean, that’s his end goal, right? So what is going on?

I really struggled with what the character was thinking. Finally, instead of trying to change him to fit my perceptions of him, I decided to delve deeper into his history. One night (I do lots of my plotting while I’m falling asleep), I went through his entire backstory, starting when he was a kid. I played out the scenes in my mind of the accident that orphaned him, the foster family who neglected him, and the friends who ultimately left him to be killed while they turned tail and ran.

Suddenly, everything he had been doing made sense. He wasn’t acting out of character. I had misunderstood his character. I had thought his motivation was to destroy the society that had ruined his life. It isn’t. What he really wants is to find a friend who won’t abandon him.

:::bursts into tears::: Gut-wrencher! No wonder he’s making friends. He’s desperate for them. Even if he does try to . . . kill them . . . ahem.

Anyway, so if one of your characters is acting out-of-character, double check to make sure that’s really the case. Maybe you’re just misunderstanding who that character is.

Happy Writing!

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