Runaway Characters – A Guest Post By Susan Hatler

Susan Hatler has been my critique partner and friend from the beginning of my writing journey and I’m so happy to have her here at Magical Musings.  Susan writes sweet contemporary romance and fun young adult books.


She is an indie published author whose short story, My Last Blind Date, made her an International bestseller.  Now that she’s moved back to CA from Montana, Susan and I get to meet up once a week to write.  Lately, it’s been her writing and me procrastinating, but she’s always a great source of inspiration!   So here’s Susan…

I know what you’re thinking when I say “runaway characters,” so let me reassure you. No, my heroine did not jump off the screen and out of the computer with her hero. Although, there’s fun start to a book . . . I’ll have to add that to my “ideas” folder, which is probably novel length at this point. As you can tell, I love starting stories, which is why my current project was supposed to be the perfect venture, until my characters took over.

My Last Blind Date is a twenty-five page short story I published in February about a heroine, Rachel, who can’t decide which is worse: a blind date on Valentine’s Day or no date at all. I loved the characters in this story and decided to write side character Ellen’s story. What was supposed to be another twenty-five pages of short and sweet, is currently over sixty pages. It’s like Ellen’s one crisis wasn’t enough and I don’t have the heart to cut any of her problems because I care about her and don’t want her to have unresolved issues.

It’s a mixture of feelings when my characters refuse to cooperate. I’m frustrated because this story, Love At First Date, was supposed to be complete by now (um, need to finish that novel that’s supposed to be out this fall!), but Ellen has things to say and really, it wouldn’t be her story if I chopped it off early. Right?

While runaway characters can make me want to pull my hair out, I have to be authentic to their story and listen to them. Ellen’s book will be done when it’s done, and clearly I will never be in control of my timeline.

What do you think of Ellen’s rebellious path? Would you have molded your character into the intended story length or let her run free?

SUSAN HATLER is an international bestselling author who writes humorous and emotional contemporary romance and young adult novels. A natural optimist, she believes life is amazing, people are fascinating, and imagination is endless. She loves spending time with her characters and hopes you do, too. You can visit her website at

GIVEAWAY!  Susan is giving away a copy of My Last Blind Date to three people–one paperback version, and two Kindle e-book versions.

BLURB: It’s Valentine’s Day and Rachel Price has a choice: Stay home and watch TV with her loveable doggy or let her best friend, Ellen, set her up on a blind date. What to do….

Ellen says the guy is a “10,” but the last guy she set her up with was a “–5.” Rachel’s been flirting with coworker Noah Peterson and she’s hoping he’s noticed. Then, she finds out Noah has big plans. Even worse, he advises Rachel to go on the blind date!

Should she play it safe and spend the Hallmark holiday with her loyal pooch, Chester, or risk another dating disaster by trying yet again for love?


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7 Responses to Runaway Characters – A Guest Post By Susan Hatler

  1. Edie Ramer says:

    Susan, I love all your covers! And what a great blurb for My Last Blind Date.

    I have to let my characters run the show. With my last novella, I knew as I was writing it that it should’ve been a novel. Because I had a deadline to send it to an editor, I pulled back. Sure enough, my editor said it should be a novel. I ended up rewriting, taking longer than if I would’ve changed the deadline with the editor much earlier. So you’re right to listen to your characters.

  2. Faith says:

    I don’t really write but I think I’d let them run free. It’ll make a better book if your being true to who your characters are instead of grooming them into what’s expected.

  3. Dale Mayer says:

    Hi Susan,

    Characters that steal the show? Yup – those are mine! They nag, scream and darn near sucker punch me if I don’t give them the floor! 🙂

    Love the covers! And hell, yes, she should got on the blind date – nothing ventured nothing gained. Besides, we love to torture out characters 🙂
    Dale Mayer`s last blog was …Blog Tour for Family Blood Ties series – Vampire in Denial and Vampire in Distress!

  4. Susan Hatler says:

    Thx, Edie! Elaina Lee is my cover designer and I really enjoy her work. 🙂

  5. Susan Hatler says:

    That’s how I feel too, Faith. Thx for stopping by!

  6. Susan Hatler says:

    Characters really have a mind of their own, don’t they Dale? Happy writing!

  7. Susan,
    It was great to have you here, and congrats on your indie writing success ;).
    I’m envious of writers who can tame their characters… Mine? They definitely have a mind of their own, LOL.

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