I prepare before I write. I do. I know my setting. I know my history. Plot-wise, I know the identity of the victim. I know the identity of the killer. I know all the suspects' motives. I know who's good and who has evil lurking in their heart. I know, gosh-darn-it.
And then you start writing, and everything changes.
I've got characters turning on me left, right and center. These people are getting so persnickety they're barely talking to each other. Veiled comments are being made. Arms are being crossed. People are getting up and stalking out of rooms. Others are sneaking around opening doors and seeing what's going on inside. Some are stirring up trouble just for fun. For fun! I'm dealing with rabble rousers. I have no control.
Now, don't get me wrong. I'm pleased as punch my many varmints are exhibiting different sides to their personalities, no one is all good or all bad in real life after all. But when you've done your preparation, I don't think it's too much to assume at least a few characters will act as expected.
My main plot and all my sub plots haven't changed. On that side of the playground things are ticking along just fine. But these characters! They need to behave.
I am appreciating the irony that the one character who isn't giving me grief is my killer. A well-behaved murderer. Who knew?
I'm sure as I continue they'll keep on doing the unexpected. That's fine. That's good. At least now, I'm prepared.
Has this happened to you? Are you master of the playground? Or do your characters too, insist on doing and saying what they want?