My favorite part of writing is that moment when you make that connection with a character. They go from being just a name on the screen or piece of paper in front of you to a being with a life, a personality and a story to tell. I love that sensation of being taken over by that character. Suddenly I know things about them, I can practically feel them in my mind as they take over.
Many people I know spend their lives looking for those "Ah Ha" moments. That realization where things finally fit together and make sense. Being a writer I am fortunate enough to have several of these during each book I write. Those epiphanies also come as I write and follow the story line. People believe that as authors we create stories in our minds and write them down but the truth of the matter is we become conduits for the characters to reach out and we simply relay the story they tell us. We may get some say in what happens from chapter to chapter but if we try to steer the story in a certain direction against the will of the characters, it just won't work.
The book I have been rewriting and editing for quite some time now, Breathe, is like that. I set out to write a particular type of book. The characters had other plans. I finally gave in and went hard in the new direction but in the process I stopped listening to the characters again. They added in a romantic relationship to what was supposed to be a suspense novel. I jumped on the romance train but that forced me to overlook, and even remove, much of the suspense elements that started the book. It didn't flow right. One of my beta readers even said she liked both stories, it sounded like two completely different books smashed together.
As I am working to correct this I am learning more about the characters and, while I believe many parts of the previous book will remain, I am stepping back from any control of the story. I am excited to see what surprises they have in store for me to bring the book back on track to tell it the way it should have been told all along. There is another project I will be diving into later this year that will also be a large part tapping into the characters. While I love the surprises that come from getting to know mere about the characters and their backgrounds, this project is going to be full of emotional epiphanies.