Do your novels take on a life of their own?

I wrote Sector12 by the seam of my pants.

I wrote Isla & Morax by the seam of my pants.

I actually planned/plotted out Wrapped in Darkness which I thought was going to work amazingly well… 47,000 words later, my book is looking NOTHING like its original plan.

My problem, was that I got the first four chapters down and then realised the book actually started in chapter five. So chapter five became chapter one and then I decided I didn’t like a character, so I got rid of him, then my main character didn’t have enough personality, so she underwent a makeover. 47,000 words later… my novel has taken on a life of its own, plot outline chucked out the window.

I think the story is definitely better because of it… but geez, talk about a novel writing itself. Does this happen to anyone else? You think you know your characters perfectly well, but then they’re off doing stuff that just makes you think… who are you? First drafts are crazy.

Meanwhile, I’ve had a couple of people email and ask if I’ll review their books on this blog. While this is really flattering, please note that I’m a really bad reviewer… my GoodReads account is literally filled with one or two sentence reviews 🙂

About Jodie @ Words Read & Written

Book blogger & aspiring author.
This entry was posted in Writing Discussion and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

64 Responses to Do your novels take on a life of their own?

  1. Franny Marie says:

    My first Novel did, but then I have feeling this second novel might end up having a life of its own to 🙂

    Like

  2. Franny Marie says:

    My first Novel did, but then I have feeling this second novel might end up having a life of its own to 🙂

    Like

  3. flightdoc says:

    Dear Jodie,

    I wrote my first novel without knowing what I was doing. I didn’t plan it. I didn’t use a story board. I just started with the kernel of an idea. The subplots developed as I went, but I was able to make all of the parts work together very well. I later read a book about how I “should” write and tried that, but I still prefer starting and let the story take me where it will. One goal I have is to not make the ideas so obvious that the reader can predict the ending from the beginning.

    Scott McPherson

    Like

  4. flightdoc says:

    Dear Jodie,

    I wrote my first novel without knowing what I was doing. I didn’t plan it. I didn’t use a story board. I just started with the kernel of an idea. The subplots developed as I went, but I was able to make all of the parts work together very well. I later read a book about how I “should” write and tried that, but I still prefer starting and let the story take me where it will. One goal I have is to not make the ideas so obvious that the reader can predict the ending from the beginning.

    Scott McPherson

    Like

  5. Kevin S says:

    I usually start with a rough outline of the story, but I give the story the space to go wherever it wants. Otherwise it’s forced, and then it becomes obvious to everyone, except maybe the writer

    Like

  6. Kevin S says:

    I usually start with a rough outline of the story, but I give the story the space to go wherever it wants. Otherwise it’s forced, and then it becomes obvious to everyone, except maybe the writer

    Like

  7. M T McGuire says:

    I love that Gaiman quote. It’s bang on.

    Cheers

    MTM

    Like

  8. M T McGuire says:

    I love that Gaiman quote. It’s bang on.

    Cheers

    MTM

    Like

  9. unknown says:

    Angela Carter used to reckon that her novels started with a plan, but then the characters would take over and it would all go out the window… Some would say this was a bad, ill-disciplined thing, but then they’ve obviously never read her! Sometimes, despite how much you plan, the back brain takes over and unleashes story developments that have been percolating in the unconscious… And that can be when it REALLY gets interesting!

    Like

  10. unknown says:

    Angela Carter used to reckon that her novels started with a plan, but then the characters would take over and it would all go out the window… Some would say this was a bad, ill-disciplined thing, but then they’ve obviously never read her! Sometimes, despite how much you plan, the back brain takes over and unleashes story developments that have been percolating in the unconscious… And that can be when it REALLY gets interesting!

    Like

  11. I kew exactly where my story was going when I started. It’s actually a projected trilogy and I know how it it will all end. But as my characters developed, they started telling me what to do. Eventually I just laid out the major beats and allowed the characters to get their on their own. I have one secondary character who, if I’m stuck, I can just have a character ask him a question and the scene writes itself. And my characters are absolutely alive and real. I’m glad I have writer buddies who understand when I say I have a ten-year-old girl running around in my head who won’t leave me alone. It’s why I’m unable to give up on a book that is, frankly, unmarketable. My romantic couple looks at me and says, “What about us? We want to be together!”. It’s so strong that I actually wrote a short story about a writer going crazy because he was going through this. I know, how meta!

    Like

  12. I kew exactly where my story was going when I started. It’s actually a projected trilogy and I know how it it will all end. But as my characters developed, they started telling me what to do. Eventually I just laid out the major beats and allowed the characters to get their on their own. I have one secondary character who, if I’m stuck, I can just have a character ask him a question and the scene writes itself. And my characters are absolutely alive and real. I’m glad I have writer buddies who understand when I say I have a ten-year-old girl running around in my head who won’t leave me alone. It’s why I’m unable to give up on a book that is, frankly, unmarketable. My romantic couple looks at me and says, “What about us? We want to be together!”. It’s so strong that I actually wrote a short story about a writer going crazy because he was going through this. I know, how meta!

    Like

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