I’ve written a few posts relating to the planning process before, in particular about what percentage of your work is pre-decided and what you leave up to your instincts as and when you actually write. Recently however I read an article that sparked off yet another consideration I hadn’t really given much thought before: To what extent would you be willing to change the course of your story when you wrote, even if it went against your finalised plan?
The piece in question that got me thinking was an interview with JK Rowling in which she seemed to say that with hindsight, she regretted having Hermione and Ron – two of the Harry Potter series’ main characters – get together romantically at the conclusion of the books. She implied that she now felt it was the wrong decision from the perspective of the characters and that her main driving force in including the plotline was to honour her plan and own arguably selfish wishes as the author and creator of their world. The quote was as follows:
“[I] wrote the Hermione-Ron relationship as a form of wish fulfilment for reasons that have very little to do with literature and far more to do with me clinging to the plot as I first imagined it, Hermione ended up with Ron. I know, I’m sorry, I can hear the rage and fury it might cause some fans, but if I’m absolutely honest, distance has given me perspective on that. It was a choice I made for very personal reasons, not for reasons of credibility. Am I breaking people’s hearts by saying this? I hope not.”
I found this fascinating. Throughout my own writing, I have indeed added extra subplots or supporting characters that came to me as I wrote even though they weren’t included in the initial plan but have never changed – or been tempted to change – such a major plot element.
Have you ever drastically changed elements of your story that affected the entire plot or do you always try and stick to your plan? Have you ever regretted decisions you made with regards to your characters?