Are you in control of your story, or is it in control of you? Do you tell your characters what to do, or do they just narrate their own stories?
With me, it is a little bit of both. I generally tell the story but, sometimes, the characters don’t like what I am writing and scream at me to change it. I can drag them kicking and screaming into what I want them to do, or I can just follow their lead. My characters have been known to have minds of their own.
What? Those voices in my head aren’t real? You want to send the guys in white coats after me? You think I’m nuts? You mean everyone doesn’t hear those voices?
Go ahead and send those guys with the looney house over. I have some questions for them. I think one of my characters might be schizophrenic. Or is that me? No. I’m not schizophrenic. It must be them.
The characters with mental problems are fun to write and hard at the same time. They don’t act the way most of society does but, at the same time, I have to make them believable. One of my side characters is looney tunes. I keep changing her, trying to make her fit into one category better. Right now, she is just a plain old wacko.
Even the main characters need to have quirks, or they won’t be believable. Readers are only willing to suspend their disbelief so far. Once that limit has been reached, you have lost that reader forever. Cardboard characters don’t give them much reason to do so.
Are your characters talking to you? Are you listening to them? Are you incorporating their ideas into your story? The rough draft is the perfect place to do that. You can take it out later, if it doesn’t work.
Don’t get so stubborn with your story that you don’t let it take a few twists and turns. Those may be just what the doctor ordered. If they aren’t, you may need another doctor.