Friday, February 06, 2009

False Starts -- My Modus Operandi?

A couple months ago I thought I was going to begin a series here called "Evolution of a Novel". I planned to chronicle the writing of my third novel, but I quickly learned it wasn't a good idea for me to talk about my writing too soon in the process. One day I'd have Character A doing this and that, the next day Character B took over and erased Character A entirely. Writing seat-of-the-pants isn't an easy path to chronicle!

But now that I'm further down the road with this novel, I'm noticing a trend. With this book and my last I had a false start. By that I mean I wrote a couple chapters thinking I was going in one direction only to find out later I was completely off base and needed to scrap the chapters altogether. Sigh. Not exactly my preferred writing method, but perhaps it's my way to sort out what works and what doesn't.

With this latest novel, Flesh & Blood, I wrote 3 chapters, switching back and forth between two characters, one of whom is a character from my last novel, Innocent Blood. All was going well. I thought I knew at least some of where I was going.

But then it happened.

My first reader sheepishly handed me back my chapters and informed me of something I had suspected by hadn't wanted to believe. My two characters were too similar. They had some of the same problems and issues they'd be dealing with in the story, and the coincidental twist I'd planned was way too coincidental.

So ... back to the drawing board I went!

Character A ended up on the drawing room floor. I was left with Character B, the character I'd really wanted to write about anyway. And by focusing on only one lead I would be able to make her story stronger. It's hard to throw characters out of books, but who knows? Maybe Character A will get a book all her own someday!

False starts. Blessings or curses? For me they've been blessings because they help me discover what exactly I want to write about. How about you writers? And readers ... have you ever read a novel that started one way then changed a couple chapters in? What did you think?

3 comments:

C. said...

Hey C.J.,
Sounds like you were a good sport about that first reader.

C.J. Darlington said...

Funny. That first reader has the initial "C", too... ;) LOL

Rachel said...

It's always better to submit and avoid wasting time, right?