Friday, 13 November 2015

How I Fixed the Story that was Stuck

Three years ago, I stumbled upon a story idea that clicked with me. This was the first idea that I'd ever thought could become something big, and with a whole ton of world building I had a thorough plan for a huge fantasy trilogy.
Recently, in writing book one I became stuck. I'd been stuck with writing before, but this was different. I was writing less, not because I wasn't making the time, but because I felt less connected with what I was writing. I became paranoid that my story didn't have enough to say because it wasn't meeting the typical fantasy novel word count. The whole story felt like it had stopped - it wasn't going where I wanted it to anymore. This was some of the best writing I'd ever done and I had to accept that something had to change.

I searched through all the advice the Internet could provide me. For a while I believed that if I cut the characters or change key plot points that I could fix it, but I'd already done that more times than I could count. I attempted editing what I'd already written over and over again. But it was too late. The idea that had consumed my whole life for three years - the idea that I believed would be huge just wasn't working for me anymore.

I adored every part of the concept itself, but writing it became painful. Editing was a chore and flashbacks and perspective changes were all over the place. I didn't want to let the story go, but I couldn't continue with where it was going.

I considered my dilemma from the perspective of my future self: if I finished what I was writing and by some miracle it got published, I would not be happy with it. Even if I had positive reviews and it was as successful as Harry Potter, I would not be happy with it.

Crazy, right?

So I doubt that the first novel I publish will be met with Potter level enthusiasm. That was never really my goal. My goal was to write something I enjoy. What anyone else thought of my work didn't matter, even though I thought it did for so long.

When I took a break and stepped back, I finally found how I could make this work for me.

What was slowing my story down was the perspective it was being told from. Artemis was the first character I created, but her experiences of the world were so intense that it took too much away from the story and the other characters. Her experiences even took away from the character herself. So many bad things happened to her in a row and she knew so little about what was going on that I realised she could no longer carry this story.

After experimenting with different perspectives, I found that a secondary character, Jay, had a story I still wanted to tell. This is the same Jay from the short story I posted in August. She was a stronger character in the sense that she could push the story forward, whereas with Artemis it felt static.

Initially I did not want to consider a perspective change. It felt like the tens of thousands of words I had written were going to go down the drain. But what I didn't realise is that they didn't have to. The story was still there, albeit a little different. The major plot points will remain the same. Even the minor plot points will not change as much as I feared. I don't have to remove any of the characters that I spent so long crafting. But instead I will just shuffle things around.

I have yet to write much of this new version of my story, but I'm far more excited about where it may lead than I had ever been in the past. I will spend less time concerned about genre conventions and what my book should be and focus on what I want it to be instead.

Have you ever felt like giving up with your writing after getting so far? I'd love to hear about how you came over it or how you were inspired again.


  1. This is a good post! There's a book I've been working on forever that I felt I couldn't do it justice. My problem was POV, and I kept waffling between first and third. I settled on third, and felt that it did work a lot better for the story. Now, I just need to finish it. :D

    1. Thank you Anne! I hate the thought of abandoning an idea after so much work - sometimes a little change can make a huge difference. Good luck in finishing your book!