Two dilemmas present themselves as I get close to finishing my new novel. The first one was prompted by a song on the radio that gave me an idea for a lovely little connection between an event and a character. The second one was a great plot twist that came to me in a dream. Really.
The song I heard is ‘Alice’ by Tom Waites. I’ve been pondering which music to play during a character’s funeral for a while now, and have so far left it undecided. Alice fits the bill perfectly; trouble is, the character isn’t called Alice. I could change that with a few key strokes, but should I?
The character isn’t the main player, so a name change at this stage wouldn’t be too tricky. But I’ve got to know her now. She’s Rebecca. Could she be Alice? Should she be Alice just to satisfy a plot device? Am I so fickle? Plus, changing her name would give me another problem. A secondary character is called Alison. That’s just too close for comfort. So I’d have to change her name, too. And, as she’s often referred to as Ali, I’d have to change the diminutive as well.
Hang on a minute though. This has happened to me before, when I changed a name in my first novel. I wasn’t too far into the novel that time, which was just as well as stupidly I’d forgotten that the name was also a common syllable in lots of other words. It was everywhere. Doh.
This has got catastrophe written all over it. So, as I don’t want to waste time unpicking a similar disaster, I think the hunt for suitable funeral music is still on.
The second one, the dream, would give my novel a great twist at the end but would involve a certain amount of rewriting. I was worried that it might confuse the reader but I’m confident that the action wouldn’t be uncharacteristic, only there because the plot demands it. In true Agatha Christie style, having more than one suspect is definitely a good thing and I do love a red herring. In more modern literature the intentions of the real antagonist would be skilfully hidden from the reader until the great reveal at the end.
So would it be worth it? And more to the point, am I a good enough writer to pull it off?
The jury’s still out on this one but I can’t let it go. I think I owe it to my characters to try.