… no matter how much you think you know better… you probably don’t. The story knows.
So, I’m still writing. Yes, yes, I know, I haven’t kept you updated… been too busy writing, or thinking up marketing strategies for HEALER’S TOUCH – often having to remind myself that the best marketing strategy for HT is to get WARRIOR’S TOUCH out there…
But I just felt like sharing something…
This may not be true for everyone, but for me, it really is: my stories write themselves, and if I try to go against them, I get stifled.
I’ve been reminded of this fact a couple of times recenty.
A few weeks ago I had an idea for WT. I thought “That’ll be really cool, and according to well-established story beats, a good time for that to happen would be… later in the story.” Cool, I thought. I have something to work towards.
I kept pushing on, telling myself “Come on, write, there’s good stuff coming.” Not that I thought what I was writing at the time was terrible, or even bad. I was just struggling to find momentum in my writing.
Then I had an epiphany. That idea that I thought would work best coming later in the story could easily have happened a chapter or so ago (in relation to the point I was writing at the time) and it would change everything in the book from that moment up a notch. The next trick, of course, was how to write the follow up to this event… I needed to let the readers know it was a big deal, but stay true to the characters. First, I thought I’d get the affected character to reveal the bad news to my main POV character early. That way, the readers knew the deal. But then I didn’t know if that rang true… it would make sense for the character to keep the secret. But I didn’t want to keep the secret from my readers. I played around with showing a different POV, but ended up removing that. I don’t know… it just didn’t gel for me. I haven’t deleted it. If early readers express a desire to see that POV, I may reinstate it. We shall see.
So I went back to normal POV and the affected character keeping quiet, but behaving in an obvious way so the readers should figure out the deal… but, then I thought “If the readers can figure it out, and my characters don’t, that’s just gonna get on people’s nerves”…
So… I have returned to my first instinct… the character talks. It’s a dangerous move for him, but I think he needs to, he can’t carry this burden alone. I’ve put off when he talks by a few days, giving him time to stew. In fact, I’ve made the talking less of a choice and more forced it out of him. So it’s slightly better than my absolute first instinct, I think.
Just goes to show, though. You can think you know better, but really, it’s the story that knows the deal. You can try to force it to fit a mould, and to a certain extent that may work… but ultimately, that story’s gonna be what it needs to be.
DISCLAIMER: This is my experience over the last month or so. I’m not really offering this as advice, just saying you might like to let your instinct guide you now and then if sticking to your outline (even a loose one) is stifling your writing.