Volunteers and the Novelist

I’m not much of a gardener. Okay, I’m not a gardener at all. My husband can persuade the plants to grow, so he got the job. One thing I do know, however, is that even the tidiest of gardens gets the odd volunteer now and again. Most of the time the people in charge of plant maintenance call them weeds and remove them. As a novelist, I think we need to reconsider that strategy. Just as we decided to plant a few California poppies after a couple of volunteers appeared in the backyard, I think I’m going to let some of my volunteer characters and plot twists stick around for a bit. More than once I’ve discovered a character I intended to be expendable turned out to be essential. A couple of times a red herring (aka loose thread) turned out to be a detour to a much better story. Your patience might not be rewarded every time – sometimes a throw-away character deserves to be tossed out at the first opportunity – but isn’t it better to wait and see if something wonderful will happen?

Luck and wisdom!