[GUEST BLOG] 3 Tips For Fiction Writers – Surrendering To Your Story
Has your story ever taken a wild turn and left you wondering, “How’d we get here?” I think most writers have been there at some point. We come up with an idea for our novel and somewhere during the writing process it goes in a direction we never intended it to go. Our characters have minds of their own, leading us on wild goose chases that were never a part of the original plot. Instead of resisting the change, here are three tips for fiction writers to be an outlet and allow their characters to lead the story. Read how today’s guest blogger handles surrendering her story:
Ever have one of those days (or weeks) when the characters from your story won’t leave you alone? It happens to a lot of writers. It happened to me when I was re-working a recently completed first draft of a novel. I tried to take a few weeks off before going back to revise it, but my characters had other plans. After a day or two I gave in and dove headfirst into revising it.
I spent a week tirelessly reading sections of my manuscript, but each time I gave up in frustration because something about it just didn’t feel right. I started doing research on art galleries (the setting for the story) to see if I could jog my creativity and find the missing link. It worked–but it opened a whole new can of worms–or, rather, new characters.
Suddenly there were several new voices barking at me at all hours, insisting they belonged in the story, too. I found myself wracking my brain to come up with a way to fit them into novel without compromising my original vision. As you might expect, that’s virtually impossible. I was just too stubborn to change my plot—at first. After wrestling with those new voices, things got better when I finally put my reservations aside and surrendered to the story.
Here’s what I learned along the way:
- As fiction writers, we have to accept the truth that the story is not ours. Sure, it may be our intellectual property, but it’s not our story we’re writing. It’s theirs. The characters. The people who live in the worlds we create. I think that sometimes we forget that—I know I do! We get this “perfect” idea in our head and try to stick to our original plot, afraid of changing it and throwing the whole story off course.
- Sometimes, to make a good story that is worth reading, we’ve got to let it evolve. Let it run its course. That often requires the introduction of new people, places, or events into the plot. Try reading your rough draft from beginning to end, as if you were just an average reader enjoying a story. Do you feel like something’s missing?
- Now re-read a chapter or two—the most important scenes, perhaps. Keep a notepad handy. If any passage feels like it’s missing something, stop reading. Close your eyes and try to identify what should be there that isn’t. Let the story speak to you. Is there another voice calling out from the background, begging to be heard? If so, maybe it’s time you started listening. Now pick up your pen and start writing!
Anne Marie Stoddard used to work in radio, and it rocked. She goes to concerts like it’s her job–because sometimes, it actually is. After studying Music Business at the University of Georgia, Anne Marie has worked for several music venues, radio stations, and large music festivals, and she currently creates promotional contests and writes music trivia for a media company. Aside from all things music, she loves college football, anything-pumpkin flavored, and a good mystery. Anne Marie recently is the winner of the 2012 Decatur Book Festival & BookLogix, Inc. Writing Contest for her manuscript for “Murder At Castle Rock,” a music industry murder mystery. It will be published in the coming months and will be her first full-length novel. For more information and updates on Anne Marie’s work and the release of “Murder At Castle Rock,” like her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter or visit her website.
Have you had a hard time surrendering your story? Please share in the comment section below. Interested in guest blogging? Submit your pitch by messaging us on Facebook.