Who’s Driving Your Story?

I got in my truck this morning and my knees scraped against the underside of the dashboard and the steering wheel smashed into my ribs.  You might think I’m exaggerating, but I’m not–much.

You see, Dear Daughter drove my truck last, and she’s all of five foot nothin’. 

Writing is similar to driving.  One person must steer the car, but input can come from the passenger seat or even from a backseat driver. 

A story is typically about a central MC.  (Don’t freak on me, I said almost, not the absolute always.)  Sometimes the MC has a BFF that helps guide the events or a significant other waiting at the destination as motivation to not get lost along the way. 

Other times, characters and events can feel like a navigation system.  “Turn right here.”  These directions can send our characters on a clear and true path, lead them along the scenic route or nearly drive them off a cliff. 

In my humble opinion, it’s important to realize that stories unfold in a variety of ways depending on who’s behind the steering wheel.  Your MC’s personality plays an important role in how much or how little advice she’s willing to take along the way.

“I know, Mom” is my DD’s mantra when speeding up to a stop light and the car idling just in front of her bumper.  “Jeeze.  Let go of the door handle.”

There is no mistaking who drives the car when DD sits behind the wheel. 

Who drives your story?  Do events dictate your MC’s actions, does conflict detour your story line or does an end goal motivate your MC to push forward despite all obstacles? 

If we’re lucky, we have a healthy balance of all three.  If not, we are on a road trip from hell!

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7 responses to “Who’s Driving Your Story?

  1. Ooh, nice post!
    Let’s see. For me, I write romance, so a HEA (happily ever after) is always the end goal. Though my characters will be the first to admit, I put them through he.. uh, heck, before they get there.
    As for events triggering actions, I do try to mix that in but with a big caveat… the characters themselves make decisions that drive some of the events, and therefore have to turn around and deal with the effect of their actions.
    And conflict, sweet conflict, tends to drive their character arcs.
    One of my best tools/ideas is to find out what the character fears most and in order to get to their HEA, I make them face and overcome that fear.
    (Am I mean to them or what?? 🙂 )

    Now back to work… *muahahahaha* 😀

    • Steph,

      You are positively evil, but in the good way! I love how you are so deliberate about knowing your characters and what that means to the story. All those NaNoSeasons with you behind the whip have helped me become far more conscious of my characterization.

      hugs and good luck with throwing obstacles in your MC’s way!

  2. Hmmm,is this multiple choice? At the moment, the characters are in total control, and they’re not being terribly forthcoming with me about where it’s ending up. Kind of mutiny going on.

  3. My characters drive my stories–sometimes off a cliff. Much like DD, if I trust them and let them do their thing, they’ll get back on course.

    P.S. I still close my eyes and hold on to ceiling handle when I ride with the kids (and sometimes Hubby). It’s a habit.

    • Yes! The Holy Sh*t handle is my friend!

      I’m like you in writing, my characters definitley drive my story. I think I used to let events play a bigger role until I realized my characters were simply reacting to stuff around them. I needed them to take more control–but with help from a few back seat antagonists!

  4. “We are not the same persons this year as last; nor are those we love. It is a happy chance if we, changing, continue to love a changed person.” ~ W. Somerset Maugham

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