Sometimes, no matter how hard you wish it so, a story does not go the way you want it to. You could know exactly what the problem is, where the story is supposed to be headed, how everything is supposed to go together, but you just can’t quite get there. It happens to every author. It happens all the time.
(me, except with dark hair and a suit and weird hands)
And it’s the most aggravating thing in the entire world. Do you go back and cut a bunch of shit and try to mold the story back into the shape it’s supposed to be in? Do you power through it and keep on going, all the while hoping for the best and that you are not being completely incoherent?
Or do you walk away from it for a little while and clear your head?
I can’t speak for other authors in how they handle it. I’m sure some do power through it and keep on going. Maybe it even turns out all right in the end and actually makes some modicum of sense.
I can’t do that. I don’t know if there’s anything more harmful to a story than forcing yourself to keep on writing it. I think it’ll show in the end, and the story will be worse off because of it. If I’m not feeling something, if I’m faking it until I make it, the story that comes out won’t be the story I want to tell.
This is happening to me right now with Ravensong. After an initial blast of me hitting 80K words in approximately a month, I slammed into a brick wall at full speed. I sat down one day last week to continue, when I realized the story wasn’t going how I wanted it to. I did try, for a little bit, to see what could come of it if I continued, but it took me three hours to write 500 words, and I knew it wasn’t going to go where I wanted it to.
I know this story. I have a very clear outline of how I want it to be. I know the ending. I know how to get there, for the most part. I just lost my way a little.
So decided to set it aside for a little bit and work on something else.
Now, before you freak out, this isn’t anything major. Like I said, it happens. In fact, last year, it happened twice.
The bulk of 2016 was me writing approximately 500,000 words in the Destiny Fuck Yeah! Trilogy, the sequels to The Lightning Struck Heart (still a little bitter I can’t actually call it that as apparently using the word fuck on your cover is frowned upon). I also wrote BOATK4 in there, another 115,000 words.
But 2016 was mostly Lightning. I knew the story. I knew exactly what the books were going to entail. Yes, initially, I planned on writing two follow ups, but instead expanded it to three, but only because I knew the story I wanted to tell was too big for just two more books.
But when I was in the middle of writing A Destiny of Dragons, I hit that same wall. It was frustrating as all get out, but there it was.
So instead of pushing through it, I took a break and wrote Until You. And wouldn’t you know, when I came back to it, reread what I’d written already, I saw exactly where I’d gone wrong, fixed it, and got back on track.
When I was writing the third book, The Consumption of Magic, there was that damn wall again. That really pissed me off, because I was so close to getting toward the ending that’s going to knock everyone’s socks off, and I needed to get to it. I wanted to write it so fucking bad. But I couldn’t, because the story wasn’t there yet.
So I took another break and wrote Olive Juice, which comes out April 26th. Olive Juice is so far away from the land of Verania, they’re not even in the same universe, much less the same ballpark. But once I finished Olive Juice, I came back to Consumption, and again, reread what I’d written. I found the problem. This time, it wasn’t an easy fix. I had to correct a lot, but I felt so much better about it when I did. And I was able to pick up the story and finish it. BOATK4 came after, and then the last book in the Destiny Fuck Yeah! Trilogy (seriously, why can’t I use that? If you’re offended by the word fuck, you probably aren’t reading my books anyway), which came out pretty damn easy in the grand scheme of things.
And then here I am in Ravensong. Here is that wall.
So I set it aside, and started working on something different. Not ready to talk about it yet, but it’s going to be pretty rad, I think.
The funny thing is, it was while I was working on this new thing toward the end of last week that I figured out where I’d gone wrong with Ravensong. I know how to fix it. It shouldn’t be something too difficult, but I’ll go back and reread it once I finish what I’m on now. It’ll still be out next year.
The point of all this?
Don’t force it. It’ll show. Readers will be able to pick up on it. They’re a savvy bunch. Step back. Walk away. Work on something different. Come back to it with fresh eyes, and chances are, you’ll figure out the problem.
It’s going to happen again. I know it. For me, at least, while frustrating, it’s not going to be the end of the world. I have a billion ideas all ready to get out.
(Also, the second point of all this is Olive Juice. Because that’s my next book. Pre-orders will be up this coming Saturday, along with the release of the blurb so you’ll know what the book is finally about. I hope you’re ready!)