Do Characters (And Sentences) Belong Only To One Story?

I was writing away on my new novel when suddenly the ex-husband from a novel I'd started and abandoned walked on.

He's my new favorite character, ever, and his insistent good cheer is going to make a great counterpoint to my confused, grieving heroine.  I adore this guy.  But how weird is it that he came over from the other novel?

It felt somehow wrong at first.  Like he belonged only to the other story.  But then I started thinking about it and realized, maybe he's been lying in wait all this time for the perfect place to insert himself.  He's been waiting for his cue.

Is this weird?

Then I was sorting through old journals and found a sentence from a novel I wrote long ago, that has been lost to the sands of time: And then I watched him walk away from me one last time.  I love that line.  I know, I know, its pretty simple.  But I still love it.  And I may want to use it some day instead of burying it in a journal.


Or normal?

Or is there a normal for writers?  Probably not.

This post is uncharacteristically short, without the usual "create a  successful, inspired writing life" tagline because I want to hear from you.  Have you had this experience?  What do you think about transferring characters or lines from story to story?  I'm all ears.

I'm hoping your responses will convince me I'm not crazy.

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6 Responses to Do Characters (And Sentences) Belong Only To One Story?

  1. Zan Marie 04/11/2012 at 05:14 #

    Sounds like the day, I realized that the orginal Cherry Hill WIP was only the start of a trilogy. Plots, problems, new characters have been rolling out ever since. Oh, and that character only created for a Forum esercise? She’s come walking back in, too. And I couldn’t be happier. ; )

  2. Charlotte Dixon 04/11/2012 at 06:58 #

    Zan Marie, a trilogy? I love it! That’s great. And it sounds like I’m not the only one who has characters and sentences crossing boundaries. Sounds like your writing is going really well!

  3. Melissa Marsh 04/11/2012 at 19:52 #

    Way back in the seventh grade, I wrote a short story about pirates. One of the characters, whose brother was kidnapped by the pirates, was named Robert Pidela. He came to life on the page from the very first moment he appeared. Years later, he appeared in my first completed novel, one that garnered a lot of interest from agents, but ultimately, was never published (thank goodness). Finally, I decided I needed to write his story and though I abandoned it years ago (it was a romance and I no longer write romance), Robert lives on and I hope he will eventually appear in another one of my works. He is the most real character I’ve ever created. If he walked into my house tomorrow, I wouldn’t even be surprised.

    So no, you’re NOT weird. LOL. We as writers have a beautiful gift – incredible imaginations!

  4. Charlotte Dixon 04/12/2012 at 06:59 #

    Oh, this is the best story ever, Melissa! I think Robert definitely needs to appear again in one of your stories. He seems very determined to be shown to the world. I think one thing that’s unusual about your story is how long-lasting the character is. Really cool.

  5. CarrieVS 04/12/2012 at 13:21 #

    I’ve had a fair few characters and events transfer form one story to another. Often it’s more that two stories I thought were separate turn out to be different viewpoints in the same world. I love the feeling when that happens, of joining two big sections of a puzzle together and suddenly being able to make sense of more of the picture.

  6. Charlotte Dixon 04/12/2012 at 13:30 #

    Yep, that’s happened to me, too It is a wonderful feeling, seems like it makes the resulting story much bigger and richer.

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