I’ve lost control

Vladimir Nabokov, The Art of Fiction No. 40


E. M. Forster speaks of his major characters sometimes taking over and dictating the course of his novels. Has this ever been a problem for you, or are you in complete command?


My knowledge of Mr. Forster’s works is limited to one novel, which I dislike; and anyway, it was not he who fathered that trite little whimsy about characters getting out of hand; it is as old as the quills, although of course one sympathizes with his people if they try to wriggle out of that trip to India or wherever he takes them. My characters are galley slaves.

Nabokov’s characters did exactly what he wanted them too. I’m close to 7000 words into the NaNo novel and already I’ve lost control. My characters are doing their own things! I’ve written myself into a corner and now I have to write a sex scene. There are continuity issues, my flashbacks are out of order, it’s the past – no wait not that far back – fuck. Wait, that hasn’t happened yet. It’s a nightmare. And entirely par for the course with the challenge of writing this fast. Regardless of my plotting, I’m still having to ‘pants’ parts of the story. There isn’t time to story board the sequences, so by the seat of my pants, I am guessing, making it up. Cranking out the daily words so I don’t fall behind.

Trying to introduce enough tension between the central characters and avoiding any more love interests – man are they trouble!