To write successfully we often rely on suspension of disbelief. This can be achieved through a variety of methods, from using premises that the reader’s are unfamiliar with to simply making characters believable. Once I’m invested in a character or a story, I’m willing to overlook a lot. I’m sure most people are.
We want believable characters, hell even in our villains. Look at the prevalence of the Antihero. So, that’s the question I bring to you today. What is the balance between believable characters and unpredictable ones?
I mean, I love a character I can relate to as much as the next person, but when does that get boring? When are you reading like, “oh let me guess, he’s not going to tell her what’s going on and mayhem will ensue.” Does outside influence have to be the surprise in your story?
Is a surprising character actually surprising or do you feel cheated by an unreliable narrator? I’m sure there is a balance in there somewhere, between being true to your characters and surprising your audience. I’m just having trouble finding it. But we surprise ourselves, right? And who do you know better? If I can do things that surprise me, like leading a meeting when every fiber of me knows myself to be absolutely terrified of public speaking, then isn’t it a disservice to our characters to leave them stuck in a loop of who they are supposed to be? Or must you follow a natural progression of character development to get some new bits out of your characters?
**** Emily is a wannabe currently working on finishing a novel (or five) and short stories.