The Novel’s Life

I have said it before: novels have lives of their own. Maybe I should expect it by now, but it still amazes me how a book can simply do things that I didn’t anticipate–often without my permission.

Case in point, my current work in progress Dustman. The idea for this book was simple: girl loves boy, boy goes mad, girl gets married to man who promises to care for boy, man loses boy, girl goes on quest to find boy. (Okay, not simple simple, but you know.) For me it’s even simpler, since I’m using a pre-developed world. It just started out with three characters, and three points of view. Then a fourth appeared, and I figured that was okay… I would let him. He’s cute.

But aside from character, this book is quickly becoming one of the most complex I’ve ever plotted. Sure, I’ve had intertwining narratives in a multi-POV story before; I love doing that sort of thing. But this time around, it’s just so much deeper. Little details (like the fact that the main city is built on a lake) suddenly become vastly important, for reasons I’d never expected.

I should point out that I’m not a plotter. I’m a pantser. My first draft is as much a discovery for me as anyone, but usually it takes a draft or two to get to the point of such nuance.

Honestly, this feeling is like a drug. One character is traversing the Seven Hells; another is being controlled by a Temple run network connected to this godlike creature in the lake; another is falling in love with her brother’s ex-crush… they’re all involved in politics, and so far four separate factions are all looking for one person. (Who happens to be the one traversing those aforementioned hells.)

Also: squid.

Today, at the gym, I was giggling thinking about what I’m writing next, just getting so excited to take the time and do it, to roll with it, to get completely wrapped up in it.

Ah, the honeymoon stage…

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5 Comments on “The Novel’s Life

  1. I LOVE this post. I have tried explaining this phenomenon to so many of my non-writer friends, and they think I’m absolutely insane. I like to look at it as we have a viewing window into something that’s taking place on its own accord. These stories and characters are happening somewhere, and we are just lucky to see them. Maybe I’m weird.

    It’s nice to know there are others out there 🙂

    • @Kristina Absolutely! It’s very much like being crazy. Except really (REALLY) you’re not. (Right…?) I feel the same way, like I’m often channeling something, tapping into some story vein of silver. It’s just a matter of thinking it out, of grasping all the details and getting it right. You’re not weird; you’re a writer!

      (Consequently, last night my husband and I had this conversation while I was writing: Me: “Did I tell you about the squid GPS thing in the book?” Him: [long, kind of uncomfortable pause] “No, no you didn’t mention that.” — I eventually explained it to him and he liked it. But still. It’s those moments… hehe.)

  2. I have moments just like that! Oh wow, I feel like I’m at a support group meeting for not-so-much-recovering writers. I was talking to my roommate two nights ago about a book I’ve been working on (fantasy, Gaiman-style rather than Lackey-style) and I started going off about a character of “mine” like he was a real person. It took me a second to realize why she was looking at me funny. Oops. I’m glad I can be entertaining for my roomies, I suppose 🙂 And I’m sure your husband finds those conversations entertaining, as well!

    Oh well–if we’re crazy, at least we’re in good company!

  3. Ah, the honeymoon stage. I am feeling your love as if it is mine. I love it when something reveals itself in such a way. I am a plotter, but the point, where I know the ending. From then on the novel dictates the way to the ending or whether the ending will be valid.

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