Runaway Character

(I found this post in my drafts. Not sure how it never got published, but I wrote it nearly a year ago. I know I’ve mentioned this several times, but I think this post explains it really well.)

Meet Travis Parker. Originally, I created him so another character I really liked wouldn’t have to be a double agent villain. He was almost a throw-away character who didn’t show up until more than halfway through the story. I realized that was pretty suspicious, so I introduced him at the beginning.

And he was everyone’s favorite character. I didn’t tell my readers he was a villain. They were pretty horrified when they found out. I realized surprising the readers with this wasn’t as important as showing Travis’ motivation. Trouble was, his motivation didn’t make sense. I was already toying with the idea of adding a secondary POV, so I decided to try out Travis.

Wow. His motivation was a lot more complex than I had supposed. I thought he was just an angry teen who wanted revenge. Actually, he’s a lonely boy who just wants to find a group that won’t abandon him. I really struggled with his villainy. It didn’t seem to fit anymore. The more I wrote, the more conflicted and caring he seemed.

And he was STILL everyone’s favorite, even knowing that he worked for the villains from the beginning. Even when he sabotaged and tried to kill his teammates. My readers could see his indecision. In the original story, there was a scene where Travis finally confronts the MC–Derek–and tries to kill him. I realized there was no way that would work. As I dug deeper and pondered and wrote, I realized he would do the opposite. He would sacrifice himself for Derek, even though Derek had been something of a jerk to him.

Travis also, unexpectedly, fell in love with the wrong girl. And she, even more unexpectedly, reciprocated. I decided to go with it and see what happened. They just went on their first date.

It’s amazing how much more complex, engaging, and interesting the story became when I let the story write itself, when I followed the logical path of the characters. Travis has now taken over the story. And he’s still everyone’s favorite. 😀

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