Characters make illogical choices – deal with it.

For some reason, when I wrote first drafts before, I felt like I had to have every teensy quirk figured out about my hero before I allowed her to breathe across the page. And anytime she’d suddenly do something that didn’t align with my very strict, very limited, very narrow character outline I’d created on her, I’d have a fit. I’d erase and edit. And then steer her back to whatever  decision/move/etc. I deemed logical. 

Then I read this: “Characters constantly make seemingly illogical choices that our readers will not question provided we support these choices with sufficient context.”

Oooh.

Why have I not realized this before? Why have I shoved my characters in an unrealistic box, just so things seem “logical?” My answer couldn’t possibly be, “Because that’s how humans are naturally.” Logical. All the time. Except, embarrassingly, that’s what I believed. That I could create the perfect formula for my hero — one she would follow with a military diligence. And even when she opted to do something illogical, it would be logical (my logical) for her to make this move. 

Pathetic.

I’m learning, slowly, how to let my characters make illogical moves. See where they take me. Understand that as long as I have “sufficient context” to back these oddities up, I’m good. I’m better off, even. Because that’s when a character will truly live, on the page and off. 

With this third book, I’m trying not to stick Breslin into my hero formula. I’m trying to let her make mistakes that I never thought she’d make. Speak up when I thought she’d stay quiet. Argue when she “should have” made peace. It’s tough. It goes against my formulaic, organizational mind. But I’m seeing that the more I allow her to make these choices, the stronger her character becomes. And that excites me no end.

Welcome, illogical choices. My characters (and hopefully my readers) appreciate you.

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2 thoughts on “Characters make illogical choices – deal with it.

  1. That makes so much sense, seeing how any one of us real life humans CAN and DO make choices that are not logically consistent with our (own and other’s) perceptions of our value system/world view. Also, the definition of what’s “logical” is pretty subjective too, right?

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