Character Rebellion

by Peter DiChellis

The characters in a couple of my stories are staging an all-out rebellion. Seems they don’t want to rob graves for a living. But the stories are about grave robbing, so somebody’s got to do it!Graveyard

 Brief background: After conducting a bit of research on grave robbing (don’t ask) I imagined several different mystery-suspense possibilities and I’m following through with more than one. Problem is, the characters have decided robbing graves is hard work, so they’re issuing all sorts of rowdy complaints.

 You’d think they might complain about the dastardly image I’ve created for them, but they’re actually more concerned with working conditions, wages, and employee benefits. Perhaps it’s simply a reflection of the times and maybe I’m at fault for entrapping the characters in such a gruesome sweatshop. But I’ll confess I’m considering replacing them with new characters that will stay on the page and not whine so much.

 Anyhoo, in case you’re interested, here are my characters’ top 20 complaints about robbing graves.

 1. Way too much digging.

A night time walk around Haworth with Greg for January's Camera Club.

 2. I make them bring their own shovels.

 3. No union.

 4. No health plan.

 5. When they’re done digging, they still need to pry the coffin open.

 6. As soon as they get the coffin open, a disgusting smell leaps into their noses.

 7. No pension.

 8. No paid vacation.

 9. It’s night work, in a goddamn graveyard.

 10. The flashlights I give them have weak batteries that die at the worst moment.

 11. The characters complain that everybody they work with tells ghost stories.

 12. They’re afraid if they get caught no amount of explaining will save them.

 13. Dead people look creepy-scary after spending a while under the ground.

 14. I write strange noises into the stories. At night. In a goddamn graveyard.

 15. The characters never find good jewelry because I let relatives take it before the burial.

 16. When the characters find a wristwatch, it’s cheap and busted and stopped keeping time.

 17. Insects. Oh my, God. I put insects everywhere.

 18. No matter what the characters find when they dig up the graves, the pawnbroker doesn’t pay much for it.

 19. If what they find reeks from a dead body, the pawnbroker pays even less.

 20. They say it gets really awkward for them when someone at a party asks, “So . . . what do you do?”

 And how about you? Do characters in the stories you write ever seem to develop wills of their own? Do they sometimes nudge you in a different direction than you originally envisioned for them? Under what circumstances do you replace or completely rewrite a key character?

Peter DiChellis pub. 007 ***

 Peter DiChellis concocts sinister and sometimes comedic tales for anthologies, ezines, and magazines. He is a
member of the Short Mystery Fiction Society and an Active (published author) member of the Mystery Writers of America, Private Eye Writers of America, and International Thriller Writers. For more, visit his site Murder and Fries at



15 thoughts on “Character Rebellion

  1. No wonder they are rebelling. I thought it was funny too. Either it’s a comedy or a horror story.
    My characters do things I hadn’t planned quite often. I don’t consider it rebellion I just think of it as character development. Have fun with it. Hold your nose.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thanks for a humorous and informative post, Peter! As for your question(s): All the time. It seems I’m forever lassoing them like wandering dogies (as in stray calves) to keep them moving along the right trail. And sometimes they chew through the damn rope and go their own way no matter how much I try to corral them (hmm, maybe I should take up writing westerns . . .). Characters can be fickle beings, all right, and sometimes downright pains in the ass! That said, what would we writers do without them? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you, Kait, MJ, and Michael. I enjoy reading this blog and it’s fun posting here. Crime, horror, comedy, and (yep) westerns seem to me like good mashups, as long as the characters cooperate!

    Best wishes,

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is so witty and clever! I confess to loving humorous mysteries best. Thanks for sharing! In my Kim Reynolds mystery series, I attempted witty exchanges between my two police detective characters. Hope readers enjoyed it.


  5. Laughter is a good way to start any day, and you’ve given me a good chuckle with these rebellious characters, Peter. My characters often take the story I had in mind in a different–often better–direction. Characters–what would we do without them?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Don’t tell them they’re going grave robbing. Tell them they’re going fishing. It worked for Dickens in A Tale of Two Cities.

    My main character confided to me that years ago she was secretly married for several months to one of the guy characters. Interesting, but now I have to decide how long that’s going to stay a secret.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you for commenting Jacqueline and Jody. I only saw your comments now or would have responded earlier. I enjoy humor in mystery stories, Jacqueline. Fun, and can be a good way to hide clues by distracting readers. Jody, like you I’m usually able to move characters in the direction I want. But as you say, sometimes they exact a price. And as Jack noted, what would we do without them?

    Thanks again to all.


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