Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Getting Lost: Why it's Important in Writing Your Novel

I don't like getting lost. When I'm driving to a new place I print out a Google map. My husband is showing me how to actually use my Smartphone so that I can plug in destinations and get to places without getting lost.

Yes, I get lost. And not only when I'm driving.

Photo by: grant_loy, courtesy of Flickr
I get lost when I'm reading and sometimes, I can get lost in my writing.

It isn't always easy to keep to the path that you've created for your characters, because sometimes, quite frankly, they like to get off the beaten path.

For the most part I let them. Okay, for "all parts" I let them.

Getting lost is important in a story. Not so far off that you can't find your way back to the main road, but far enough off the beaten path to lend interest and continued reading.

I have had characters who have told me, "You're making my life too easy. I like it, but will the reader?"

I've had nudges: "Don't you think that he should die? I mean, he's great and everything, but he should die. Your main character needs to struggle with death and overcome it."

Photo by: Fugue, courtesy of Flickr
I've had whispers. "Really, I would actually say that? I would actually do that?"

Getting lost is as important as getting found, perhaps more so. Because in the getting lost much is learned about a character's strengths and weaknesses, about his/her determination to work through problems and overcome.

Much like we do.


  1. I agree, Kathryn. It's good for us to remember that characters have to struggle so they can grow and be interesting as well. I remember my first assignment in writing school. I didn't want anything challenging to happen to my characters. They were boring!

  2. Deanie, Thanks for your comments. I think we want to protect our characters from having to go through what we've gone through, but it doesn't make for a very interesting story.

    Just like life.

  3. hmm, I'm wondering how to apply this to non-fiction writing????

  4. Lin, Probably doesn't apply to non-fiction. In non-fiction much more point by point organization is required. Thanks for commenting.


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