The Evolution Of A Novel

Things change. Even novels.

Writers often begin with specific ideals that get altered along the way.

For me, the boundaries I set for my novel limited it, and thankfully, I finally realized it.

When I took down those walls, things evolved. Big time.

No longer did my favorite character have to be such a saint. The characteristics I forced on him just didn’t fit. When I stopped restricting him, he could be everything he should have been – we are all a product of our own experiences anyway. Why should our characters be any different?

And my protagonist? I have a horrible habit of making my female characters needy and weak. When I gave her a healthy dose of courage and added a little fire to her personality, things became much more fun. Suddenly I not only liked her more, but I respected her. Watching her fight for what she loved was so much better than watching everything taken away while she watched, helpless.

Then there were the dreaded side characters without real purpose.

I realized I had limited them as well by not making them essential to the plot. Once I found their purpose, they all came to life…and if they didn’t, or couldn’t, I knew to question their necessity.

And then…the wonderful villain. And boy is he wonderful. I struggled for so long trying to develop this character. I just could not see him. I imagined him older, and evil without good reason and it just wasn’t right. When he finally materialized, he was epic, and the exact opposite of all the ideals I had. I didn’t know whether to love him or hate him. And it was great.

So…the purpose of this post is simply to make you think about whether or not you have limited your novel by limiting your characters.

Are you allowing the story it’s full potential or have you hindered the process?

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  1. This is a post I'll be coming back to later this fall when I'm working on my next novel. It's a Regency spy novel and romance, still sticking with Austen's characters but veering off to secondaries now rather than Darcy and Elizabeth. There will be lots more room for me to design my own plot, and lots more room for me to make mistakes in said plot.