Over on Nathan Bransford’s blog he posed the question do you own your characters or do your characters own you? He says:
I … find it curious to hear authors so completely in thrall to their worlds and characters, and I start wondering, “Wait a second, who’s in charge here?”
The commenters on the post could be divided into two camps. One camp is authors who seem to write their story based around plot, while the other (larger) camp writes character-based stories. Plot-based authors definitely control what their characters do and keep them on track if they stray. Character-based authors give their characters some degree of control.
As many of the commenters to the post said, if a character refuses to follow the storyline it is often a sign that something is wrong with the story.
I am very much a character-based person myself. Story always come second to character, particularly in the first draft. My characters do and say things I could never have envisaged when I start of the story.
It’s nice to know that so many people out there work the same way.