I preach this advice to all who will listen (both of you), and yet last week I got caught up in it myself. I had to totally recast the villain of the holy grail saga in Bradley Schuster and the Holy Grail–in the original version, the unholy trinity were Morgause, Morgan le Fay and Nimue. Of course, we all know that Morgan is not a villainess at all, and Nimue, well she’s definitely on the side of the goddess. Not to mention George Foster’s mate and the mother of Merlin’s daughter.
So I created a villainess out of thin air. Drysi, Welsh for thorn. A disgruntled witch from Ireland who tried to steal a prince by plying him with a love potion. So far, so good. But in the chapter I was writing, she had the job of disrupting the Beltane fertility celebration between Merlin, who hadn’t gotten laid in 75 years, and Nimue, who has sworn vows to remain celibate except on Beltane.
Man, I was really trying to force the chapter. And the more I forced the action, the worse it got. I even tried to outline a plot. What a disaster that was!
Finally I threw up my hands in disgust. “Oh Kay, Drysi. I give up. Just do whatever you want to.”
Of course, everybody was half-baked on Beltane punch. Brewed with weasel-whisker and loco-weed, Beltane punch enflames the passions while reducing inhibitions. Remember in Avalon, S.C. where Rick and Sabrina drank some? Fireworks! Of course, they’d been waiting a while themselves, but not as long as Nimue, and certainly not as long as Merlin. So given her own way, Drysi went with the old tried-and-true: she slipped Merlin a love potion . . . and you saw how well that worked on Walter and Amy!
Not that the feisty Nimue was going to take that lying down. “Oh Kay, Nimue. You do your own thing, too.” So she tackled Drysi and got in a cat fight with her, ending up breaking her arm and blurring her vision for a few months. While Merlin tried to be the peacemaker by getting them both to go off to the fields with him. The priestesses and the villagers ended up having to pull them apart and tie them up so they wouldn’t get right back into it.
So Beltane came and went, and nobody got laid. Well, everybody except Merlin, Nimue, and Drysi. But none of the characters that counted.
And the morale of the story is: don’t try to tell your characters what to do.