Inconvenient ideas for your new novel


The ones you get when you thought you had everything lined up for the novel, and just needed to write it, and the Muse drops a big What If? in your lap, and you go Hmmm!

And it might be a GOOD IDEA, but it is certainly coming at a BAD TIME.
This happened this morning, and I have to admit it is a) a good idea, and b) fills a small plot hole I had, but hadn’t really thought about much except peripherally.

I think what happened is that as I took care of all the other ideas, assigning them to where they will be developed in the plot line, I cleared up some thinking space, and this little one came out, like Hope from Pandora’s Box, after all the rest had gone.

It provides a nice little conflict, and small but connecting plot line, and fills an empty space on the story’s calendar.


On the other hand, it is new, puts things in a different light, and will worry my readers.

THAT was the touchstone.

My motto is ‘Torture Rachel.’

This will nicely torture Rachel.

I hope it will torture other readers, too – making them anxious and slightly unhappy, and annoyed, and…

Sorry, Rachel.


And I have a nice solid example from Real Life where I know exactly how things worked out to use as a template, one I actually understand and liked when it happened.

Not all RL is usable this way: ‘it actually happened’ is a sorry excuse for work that is not also story-true. RL doesn’t have stories that open and close neatly – which is why we crave stories, Lisa Cron of Wired for Story tells us.


It DID derail forward progress a bit, while I suss out the implications and the necessary connections, and carve it some space, and make SURE it is justified.

Yes, I think it WILL do.

Brains, even brain-fogged ones, can surprise you when you’re not looking.

Have you been strong-armed by your own ideas lately?


10 thoughts on “Inconvenient ideas for your new novel

  1. J.M. Ney-Grimm

    Sounds like it’s perfect. I just had a version of this happen to me last week. I thought I was close to complete on the outline for WIP, just needing a few small tweaks. I took a break for a few days to handle other life chores. Then I dove into the thinking needed for the tweaks and uncovered some details that aren’t really details, in that they make a hefty impact for their size. However, they are perfect for my story, making it more the story I am trying to tell, so I am delighted. I love what my brain can do while unsupervised!


    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      ” I love what my brain can do while unsupervised!” That expresses it perfectly.

      Load up the brain and get out of its way. It will do wonders if you stop poking it for a while. I think.

      I guess better now than after it’s necessary to rip out plot bits to install the new plumbing. But I thought I had it – and then the brain said, “Fine. But look here. If you just…”

      I’m delighted, too, but not sure – this hasn’t happened in a while. I thought I knew everything. Guess even us extreme plotters get some interesting side trips.


    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      But if I don’t keep you happy, how will you want to keep reading, Rachel?

      I can’t give you expected stuff – that would be boring. I have to give you unexpected stuff – but it has to be tailored just right.

      And thank you for the kind words. Reading material coming soon. Promise. And a Kindle Countdown.


  2. Catana

    Even if you have to do a bit of surgery, at least you know it’s going to fit. Unlike the novel I wrote for NaNo a couple of years ago. Too many new ideas popped up afterwards, including a bunch of what ifs. It’s no longer the same novel and I don’t know if I’ll ever get back to work on it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      I know what you mean – my first novel went sort of like that.

      Here the surgery is to attach this little piece to the existing skeleton – to fill in a bit where there was a missing rib. THEN clothe it with flesh.


  3. juliabarrett

    Well, stories and characters have their own notions about things. Definitely take the story in directions other than planned.



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