Hey, what?

Rhobin Courtright set her group this topic: “What unique situations have occurred in the writing process of any of your novels? Perhaps, but not limited to things like where what you planned changed, or the direction you thought the story was on deviated or transmuted?”

Rhobin, I would say that such situations are the rule rather than the exception, and I suspect this is the case for anyone who doesn’t write in a straightjacket. Even if you have a well-developed plot and stick with it, you’ll repeatedly come across situations where a new person walks onto the stage, or the need for a new scene becomes obvious, or one of the characters says something that turns the writer’s preconceptions on their head.

That’s terrifying. Have you ever seen an upside-down preconception?

I carefully plotted the stories of the Ehvelen. Having designed the events of a year during which Heather, my little heroine, was kidnapped, then escaped with her tiny son, I started writing.

Oops. Both the Ehvelen, and their attackers, the Doshi, had utterly different cultures from you and me. I didn’t want to fill the book with boring lectures. A standard trick is to have the explanations within dialogue, interspersed with action. So, I needed a person for Heather to have the conversations with. His entry completely changed — and thoroughly improved — the entire series.

When writing the next novel, Sleeper, Awake, I allowed the people living inside my computer to direct the story, so I was surprised every second page. Then we had a beautiful tear-jerker of an ending, and I went to sleep, ready to do a revision before submitting the book to a publisher.

The next morning, I woke, knowing there was the need for one more page. And yes, it does turn the story upside down. If you read this book, you are NOT ALLOWED to go to the ending first, or I’ll magically turn you into a giant squid of the deeps.

Guardian Angel had another problem. It was absolutely necessary for the plot that my lovely little heroine Maraglindi be killed in horrific circumstances. She was going to reincarnate, so I thought promising that would soften the impact. I submitted the book to Sandy Cumming of Writers Exchange E-publishing, but she rejected it, pointing out that the ending was completely unacceptable. I agreed with her explanation.

I put the book away, and wrote other things. Then I fell for an Amazon con game. Amazon UK run an annual contest. Supposedly, if you self-publish via KDP, you can enter and maybe win a big prize. Only, the contest is organised so you can only win if you live in Britain. It is widely advertised elsewhere to get people to use KDP.

OK, I had a few weeks to transform Guardian Angel into a story Sandy would approve of. I decided on a new ending, nine months later: the moment the same Spirit reincarnated. This gave me lots of joyful, exciting writing, which has led to a great deal of enjoyable reading. The story has significantly improved.

After a one year of penance on Amazon, I have withdrawn the book. It’s still available from me privately, while I am seeking a publisher for it.

Final case study is the Doom Healer series. As my friends know, I’ve been working on it on and off since 2015. At the start, all I had was two teenagers: Bill, who was being bullied, the other Grater, his rescuer. Then an alien kidnapped Bill. I let the story take me where it wanted to go. To my immense surprise, the alien was revealed as being benevolent, not at all the nasty invader I initially thought — and Bill turned out to be the reincarnation of various exceptional people: King David, Socrates, Siddhartha Gautama, Jesus. Yes. I have the Second Coming in my computer, and he is going to challenge Harry Potter, hopefully not after 43 rejections from publishers, like Harry was.

Please comment below. If you like this post, please share it on your social media thingies. Then, do yourself a favour and visit these other dancers in Rhobin’s Rounds:

A.J. Maguire
Connie Vines
Diane Bator
Helena Fairfax
Judith Copek
Margaret Fieland
Rhobin L Courtright
Skye Taylor

About Dr Bob Rich

I am a professional grandfather. My main motivation is to transform society to create a sustainable world in which my grandchildren and their grandchildren in perpetuity can have a life, and a life worth living. This means reversing environmental idiocy that's now threatening us with extinction, and replacing culture of greed and conflict with one of compassion and cooperation.
This entry was posted in Bob's Books, fun, Rhobin's round robin, writing. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Hey, what?

  1. judyinboston says:

    Bob, you seem to be open to plot changes and adding characters to a story. Sometimes a new character is just what the plot needs. Conversations are a key way to give information to the reader. Often with conflict and argument. :).
    Thanks for an intersdting post.


    • Dr Bob Rich says:

      And thank you for visiting, Judy.
      Nowadays, it’s not so much that I am open to new characters, but that they come without even asking me. I am only the obedient scribe.


  2. Hi Bob, I love your description of how introducing a new character changed your stories of the Ehvelen completely. This has happened to me in a couple of stories, and a new character in my present wip has given me a brainwave that’s given the story more depth. Thanks for the interesting post.


    • Dr Bob Rich says:

      Thanks Helen. Yes, that man changed from a convenient witness to a major villain. One of his sayings: “War is wealth.”
      He is one of the major characters in “The Travels of First Horse.”
      Do you want a beta reader for your current work? I am always happy to be of service.


  3. Rhobin says:

    Although I plan out settings, characters are much harder, it always seems as if they are compelled to escape my mental plans for them. Interesting post, Bob.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Skye Taylor says:

    I love it when my characters take matters into their own hands. Makes writing an adventure. Funny we should both picture a straight jacket as a simile for being confined to a strict outline.

    Liked by 1 person

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