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One of the strangest things when writing fiction is to have a character take over the story. You’re writing along just fine and, in your mind, the story is about Mister Smith. Mister Jones is in there, as is Miss Wells. But then, Miss Wells or Mister Jones begin to assert themselves and take over the story.

At that point, a difficult decision has to be made: where do I go from here? Do I stick with my preconceived idea and stay with Mister Smith, no matter what? Or do I follow Miss Wells (or Mister Jones) and see what happens?

Believe me: I’ve tried both paths and found success and failure both ways. For those of you who have read my novel “Overstreet”, David Rathum Sr. once had a much larger part. And his story is interesting to me, but I could never tell it in a way that I found compelling. In the original version of “Lost Time”, Bronwyn barely appeared at all, but then—in a re-write—she asserted herself and really became the focal point of the story.

It’s so interesting to me when this happens. Especially when a character who wasn’t supposed to be in charge takes over and makes the story better! I’m wrestling with that now as a character has sprung up and overtaken my latest novel. And I love it! Now, though, I’m wondering whether it’s worth trying to go back and write the novel I started out to write (as a separate story). I don’t think so. I think this is the way this story is supposed to go.

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About Sam White

Samuel Ben White (“Sam” to his friends) is the author of the newspaper comic strip “Tuttle’s” (found at and doctortuttle,com) and the on-line comic book “Burt & the I.L.S.”. He is married and has two sons. He serves his community as a chaplain with hospice. Contact him at In addition to his time travel stories, Sam has also written and published detective novels, a western, three fantasy novels and four works of Christian fiction.

One Response to “When the Character is in Charge”

  1. Clair Pascarelli

    Writing fiction can certainly be difficult, but it is also rewarding to create something from nothing. Thanks for the tips and suggesetions.