Lillian Hellman Quote for Writers

table with open notebook and penLillian Hellman says “Story is what the characters want to do. Plot is what the writer wants the characters to do.”

The character in my new novel, Norman in the Painting, who appeared wearing a Homberg hat, is keeping his intentions a mystery. I wanted him to be hired by the antagonist, but he refuses that connection. Hellman is right.

Let us know if you have a character who wants to tell his or her own story and not follow your plot?


Filed under Characters, Norman in the Painting

5 responses to “Lillian Hellman Quote for Writers

  1. I have had a few characters that strayed from the plot and the results always where better for the story.


  2. I know what you mean. That’s happened to me several times and it’s not only better, it’s a surprise to me so it’s like reading as I’m writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I sometimes write with others, so when things happen that shock them due to not following plot it is a real buzz


      • Yes, surprise in a story is great.
        Have you written a collaborative story with other writers? It’s fun but can be work to get a story arc and not get off track. I had my writing classes each do one with the same beginning. The class with 10 people needed a little help but the class with 20 people was a handful. The distracting entries had to be rewritten several times. It was interesting to see how different the two stories were. I published them in my anthology, Written Across the Genres.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Most of my work has been collaborations actually. One series I wrote with up to forty writers over a period of five years. Long time, huh? My blog features the latest collaborations, including one that was with a writer I met on wordpress. I will happily check out your work. Heh, I love reading.


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