Characters TAKE the story means that a plot-line and setting, no matter how developed, is taken over by the characters. These are always the stories that I feel the most connected with. Your piece follows more in line with what decisions your characters make, your story seems to click into place, you hear the voices of their words. In The Binding, I decided I wanted to have a woman boinking a Christmas Tree salesman. I planned out a little tree lot with a little trailer and a hunky man named Isaac. I beat my head against a brick wall for about seven hours thinking about the story and trying to figure out why in the world I couldn't get my lead female interested. Why the lumberjack-butch male wouldn't conform. Finally I sat down and just started seeing it through Brit's eyes. She was a college professor who lived alone. Extremely intelligent, extremely beautiful - what use did she have for a dead tree rotting in her living room? And then I landed on it. She was magically pulled by Isaac - who was not just a big hunk of man flesh as I'd originally pictured.
The story practically wrote itself and ten hours later I had a completed piece, and my editor and lover LOVED it.
Nearly the same thing happened with The On-Call Babysitter and A Night With Them Both.
I don't think its any coincidence that these pieces also happen to be my biggest sellers to date. The characters are alive in them, almost humming with their own life.
When you sit down to write a story don't spend so much time focusing on conforming to the exact plot, the exact setting, the exact introduction, focus more on hearing your characters speak, seeing them dress--or undress. Focus on their feelings.