5 Things You Don’t Know About My Novels

5 Things You Don't Know About My Novels

The story that ends up in a reader’s hands is very rarely the same story an author started out with. In fact, sometimes it downright amazes me to compare my published novels with the original ideas that spawned them, never mind all the little tweaks that got trimmed away during the ruthless editing process.

Today, I’m going to share a little behind-the-scenes glimpse at five deleted story elements you won’t find in my finished novels.

(Note: All Amazon links are affiliate links.)

Behold the DawnBehold the Dawn

1. Annan Was an Assassin

What You Know: There’s a line my medieval epic Behold the Dawn about how the infamous and world-weary tourney competitor Marcus Annan was “occasionally a mercenary, but never an assassin.” He says this when he’s offered the job of assassinating several people — including the woman with whom he will enter a marriage of convenience.

What You Don’t Know: In my original outline, Annan was totally an assassin. In the book, most of the sins he regrets are things that happened long ago. But in the original version, he was even more actively lost than he ended up being. As a matter of fact, Annan is hired to assassinate King Richard and his wife Queen Berengaria of Navarre. He takes the mission — but does end up getting his head screwed on straight before carrying it out.

2. Gethin the Baptist Was an All-Around Good Guy

What You Know: (And if you don’t know, this one is a little bit spoilery.) In the book, the mendicant prophet Gethin the Baptist is a conflicted character, preaching reform while demanding Annan help him with his own obsessive quest for vengeance. Indeed, in some ways, he ends up being scarier than the “main” bad guys Bishop Roderic and his Norman lackey Hugh de Guerrant. *shiver*

What You Don’t Know: In my original conception, Gethin was a straight-up good guy, intent on saving Annan’s doomed soul (this was back when Annan was going to kill the king and queen) — even sacrificing himself in the end. His death was what changed Annan’s course. If you’ve read the book, you know that’s not quite how Gethin ended up.

Dreamlander NIEA Finalist 165Dreamlander

3. Brooke Wasn’t Always Mike’s Little Sister

What You Know: When he’s not leading armies and wooing princesses over in his dream world, Chris rooms with his best friend Mike Andreola in Chicago. Mike happens to have a slightly hapless little sister named Brooke, who is nursing an overgrown crush on Chris from back in their school days, while pulling off crack-brained schemes to try to “make it big” as a writer. 

What You Don’t Know: Brooke was a character who existed almost from the moment of conception on this story. But she went through several manifestations. Her first appearance was as Chris’s snobby fashion-designer girlfriend who totally didn’t appreciate him, but who happened to visit a shrink named Mactalde. Later on, she morphed into a hard-nosed reporter ex-girlfriend who knew something was up with Chris and refused to drop the story, until she almost got both of them killed. Both those manifestations went nowhere plot-wise, so she ended up at the slightly kitten-ish version you see the book.

4. Chris Was … Different

What You Know: Speaking of transmogrification. Chris went through quite a few evolutions himself before ending up as you know him: the nice guy with the stubborn streak and the painful past.

What You Don’t Know: Ah, let me count the ways Chris changed. He started out as a beat reporter in Chicago, then morphed into a foreign war correspondent (to give him a little more “edge”), then transformed into a reporter who had been in the middle of a horrible bombing for which he partially blamed himself (too much “edge”). That’s when I finally calmed down his real-world backstory to successful-writer-determined-to-avoid-taking-responsibility-for-other-people, in order to let the plot focus where it needed to: on his forward progression into the world of his dreams.

Storming K.M. WeilandStorming

5. Seb Was Jael’s Best Friend

What You Know: Bad guy Zlo has a slightly hapless sidekick named Seb, who wears a red coat, goggles, and sideburns. That’s about all you do know about Seb. In fact, his presence in the story is so slight, you might have missed him altogether.

What You Don’t Know: Seb started out with a much more substantial role. All of this got cut to avoid unnecessary complications and confusion: but he’s actually heroine Jael’s best friend. He’s high up socially (while she’s down at the bottom) and not the brightest star in the galaxy — as proven by the fact he got mixed up with Zlo as soon as Jael disappeared. But he’s true blue under it all. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to rescue him in the end (and Hitch ends up having to conk him on the head to escape), so that part had to go. But I found him pretty adorable while he lasted.

Just like the course of true love, never a novel ran smoothly from start to finish. I always have fun revisiting the “might have beens” in old stories. I hope you’ve enjoyed this glimpse into the trivia vault!

Let’s chat! Do any of these “might have beens” surprise you? Do you wish I’d kept any of them? Tell me in the comments!

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  1. Out of these 5, I’ve only read Storming. I’ve yet to read the others, and my gut tells me Behold the Dawn is first on the radar. I’m already acquainted with Annan through Outlining and Structuring your Novel. About time we were formally introduced. But I’ve a couple of books I’ve got to plug through first. Then I’ll tackle them come April. That’s about all my gut says at this point. Except do so more crunches.


  2. ….Don’t remember Seb at all. I remember his clothing for some reason but not his name.

    • K.M. Weiland says:

      Come to think of it, I don’t know that his name even made it into the book. Zlo might say it, but it gets lost in the non-English.

      • Lorna G. Poston says:

        Benjamin Thomas, coming from someone who has read Storming twice, I couldn’t remember Seb either. And that gave great me concern. Was I sleeping through both readings? Did I miss anything else? But I feel better now that Katie said his name was only mentioned by Zlo but got lost in the non-English sentence.

        Anyway, I’m glad Seb’s role as Jael’s best friend wasn’t strongly stated. Having her all alone with no family or friends made her that much more lovable. I wanted to reach through the pages and hug her.

        • K.M. Weiland says:

          Be careful she doesn’t kick your shins. 😉 But, yeah, it worked out much better all the way around to ditch poor Seb.

        • Yes, I agree. It made her that much more endearing. I mean, minus the shin kicking part. She needed a family to belong to. We all do. By the way, I consider all the awesome contributors to Kate’s blogs part of my writing family. I talk to you guys way more than I do my own mother. (we’re not very close). 🙂

          • K.M. Weiland says:

            One of the most awesome things about the Internet for writers is the online writing community. It’s fabulous place!

  3. When I first started writing Where the Music Ends several years back, my MC Alice finds her long-lost cousin James, and he ends up having a big part in the (unfinished) story. Now named Michael, the poor fellow never appears at all and is relegated to a bit of backstory.

    Alice and the other MC, Gilbert, used to be great friends, they got along fine, etc. etc. Now they have clashing personalities and opposing goals and are much more interesting, I can tell you! They’re still friends, but they definitely don’t see eye to eye on a whole lot of things.

    Gilbert of course is thankful for one huge change I made to the story. In the original versions, he lost an arm to a wolf’s poisoned bite (and then, later on, was turned into a werewolf by a witch). He now stays human, with both arms, throughout the book, though he still gets his arm chomped on by a wolf.

    Alice used to be able to run like a deer (metaphorically, of course). She’s now just a normal girl whose speed isn’t above average (it isn’t really mentioned).

    • K.M. Weiland says:

      Great title! It’s interesting how sometimes characters who start off as the whole reason for the story end up completing changing. I have another (unpublished) story in which the female antagonist ended up being the protagonist. Totally changed the story, which is probably why I never quite got it to work. :p

      • Thanks! I actually didn’t come up with the title (I’m horrible at titles). Someone responded to my cry for help and suggested Where the Music Ends; it used to be called The Enchanted Forest, which is terrible and gives the completely wrong impression of the tone of the book. Actually, it would be awesome if you could do a post on how to title a book (I’ve read plenty of blog posts/articles on it, and they’ve never helped).

        • K.M. Weiland says:
          • Heh, I should have known you’d already posted on that subject 😀 Reading them right now.

          • Bookmarking! <3

            The best advice I know is to not name the book after the main character. (Hint: This includes not naming your book after a sword that was named for a main character. 😛 )

          • (Rats, can’t edit previous comments here.)

            I meant to also add that a good title has more than one word in it. 😀 I think people often rely on the single-word-titles because it’s supposed to isolate the most important idea of the story in a way that brings intrigue and excitement. I think they used to accomplish that, but it’s getting old now.

            Disney movies (especially with princesses) break both “rules” I mentioned above, and none of their titles impress me. “Cinderella”, “Pocahontas”, and “Aladdin” gave way to “Brave”, “Tangled”, and “Frozen”. I guess they sensed that names alone didn’t make for inspiring titles (especially when a million and a half other stories share that same name), and that “The ___ and the ___” were too vague, so they wanted to come up with something different. If they could somehow take cues from some of their other titles, such as “101 Dalmations”, “The Lion King”, and “The Sword in the Stone”, titles that force you to ask questions, I think they would sound a lot more powerful.

          • K.M. Weiland says:

            Actually, I would argue there’s nothing inherently wrong with one-word titles. They can be punchy and memorable. But the key is definitely to choose words that are unique, so your story isn’t lost in a sea of similar titles.

  4. I love the behind the scenes look at your writing process. Thanks

  5. I have a question. Which characters do you find going through the most changes as you rewrite your stories, the primary or secondary characters?

    I seem to be able to write secondary characters exactly as they should be, and the only changes they really go through is to go from “good” to “better” versions of themselves. My main characters are the ones that keep changing and changing, transforming the story with them. If someone were to read the very oldest versions of my books, then the newest ones, the stories would be completely unrecognizable, but they could match them up through the secondary characters.

    (“I remember that line about his wife’s peppercorn stew. That’s Farnell! I know him! But this isn’t even the same story, what’s going on? Man, that lady and her peppercorn stew, though…” )

    • K.M. Weiland says:

      Oh, the main characters definitely–mostly, I suspect, because they have to be so much more detailed and in depth. I’m in their heads, while I’m not in most of the minor characters’. However, the minor characters who are most likely to change are those who are *very* minor–such as Seb in Storming–and they change more as a convenience to the story than anything, because they’re so insignificant and malleable.

  6. Great encouragement for me, thanks! Hope y’all can take something from my writing story:
    I’m not trying to make a living as a full time author anymore (not what I’m called to and not fun for me – too much pressure). But I do want to write a few novels, and write them with excellence. One, my only one so far, I’ve nursed for five years – and only the bare bones have remained the same: a huntress who turns once-off vigilante to protect the innocent. And the setting, a post-apocalyptic Ozarks town. But my heroine’s name has changed twice, she wasn’t originally the protagonist (that was supposed to be the doctor). She was supposed to be a minor character, and pushed her way right to the front. The town’s power structures and social dynamics have turned a lot darker – which allows the good deeds to shine forth brighter. And the dynamics between her, her man and the man she kills has changed at least four times!
    Mostly good changes, I think, but achieved through human striving – which produced the pressure. Trusting God for times to write and desire to and that the words will be given to me. So I guess I’ve changed as a novelist too, from a pantsing newbie who nevertheless kept close track of timelines, relationships, etc to a highly skills-oriented hyper-planner who pressured himself into paralysis, to a faithing-it just plain writer.

    • K.M. Weiland says:

      I totally admire you for making that decision for yourself–that writing full-time is *not* what you wanted. Sometimes that’s almost a harder decision to make than the other way around. What’s important, either way, is knowing our priorities and having the guts to pursue them.


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