NaNoWriMo, Novel Writing

Help! My novel is running away with me!

Running Away
My story has packed up and is running away without me. | Running Away (Photo credit: Sam Howzit)

Has this happened to you? You create a solid outline of your novel, and you think you have everything figured out, and then BAM! You realize your story has taken off and is completely running away with you. There is far more to your story than you previously thought. You realize you have more to figure out than you could have ever imagined, and it scares the shit out of you. This is where I’ve found myself this past week.

I’m one chapter in and have been spending a great deal of time doing free writes and figuring out details. And it seems the details are multiplying beyond my control. For every piece of puzzle I place, I notice 50 additional pieces that I didn’t realize existed.

Example: I thought I had my setting, both time and place, figured out, and now I realize that my original plan just isn’t going to work. It’s looking as though I need to invent an entire imaginary world, and as I consider all of the little bits and pieces of that imaginary world that still need fabricating, I just don’t know if I’m up for the task. Do you understand— I mean, can you even comprehend— the amount of work involved with making up an entire fantasy world out of nothing? What am I doing?

I’m also spending time getting to know my characters, and I have these two very strong old women who are begging me to tell their story too. They insist that understanding their story is essential for my reader to gain a full understanding of my protagonist. They say they’ll wait for a time, but demand I write a prequel as soon as I finish this novel.

I’m not sure how I feel about prequels. I’ve always been taught that if your story needs a prologue, then you’re starting your story in the wrong place. Could the same be true for the prequel? Do I need to change my jumping-off point?

I don’t believe I do. My gut tells me these are two completely separate stories even though the prequel will add an additional layer to the story I’m writing now. But each story can stand on its own, and my current protagonist isn’t quite as patient as her grandmothers. She wants her story told NOW.

As I sit here looking at all of these moving pieces, one thought keeps running through my mind: Can I do this?

Has this happened to you? If so, did you get through it and finish writing that run-away novel? If you did, please share your thoughts in the comments below. I could really use some encouragement right now.

~Mandy Webster

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