What Drives a Character?

So many have asked me why characters have done certain things. Or why I made them do those things. Usually, I just smile at them and tell them I didn’t make them do it, which in turn makes them give me a puzzled look. The truth is when my husband and I write sometimes our characters do things we never expected, making scenes turn out far differently than they ever played out in our head. Now, as the writer we do have the option to go back and change the scene, make the character do something else. However, we don’t like to do this. Again, this falls back to us not wanting to write to an outline. Besides that, when we have tried the scene we wrote spontaneously sounds better, at least according to our beta readers. The character we created becomes his or her own, making decisions based on their past and experiences.

I’m not sure if a reader can truly understand what this is like. I know my father can’t. It confuses him. Again, he has never been able to write a thing. Well, maybe only a couple of pages, still that’s more than some. What I’m getting at is the character drives things, responds to things the way any person would with their background and beliefs. It’s more fun to let them take the reign from time to time.

What drives a character is themselves. It’s like asking a person what drives them. You have to stop and think about it. So do they! There is no easy answer.

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