Friday, March 22, 2013

Keeping sight of your story

You know those pesky Shiny New Ideas? The ones that pop up while you're supposed to be revising your current WIP, tantalizing as heck and glittering with potential? Well, I think one of the main reasons that they're so shiny is because they seem perfect. As though if only you could get your words down, you'd be able to craft a masterpiece from this idea.

This happened to me a while back: I was reading my sister's fantasy adventure comic, and I thought: I want to write an epic fantasy adventure like this. And it gripped me. Not the plot of her comic, but the concept of writing a sweeping fantasy where magic was used as part of modern life. I wanted to make it as epic and fun as the illustration style of the comic panels showed.

So I started writing. I fleshed out character and central conflicts and themes, but as I continued writing, the fun started to seep out. I began getting bogged down in plot wrinkles and relationships. And I think I lost what drew me to write the story in the first place.

In fact, when I thought of my sister's comic again, I was surprised to find how off my story felt. It didn't seem to be heading in that sweeping fantasy direction I wanted, and that was why it no longer felt fun. So I outlined a few scenes that would capture the essence I was trying to achieve. A fight scene; a market scene for worldbuilding; the climax, an ultimate display of girl-power.

And I think I've found my story again. I've found what made me want to write it in the first place.

It's vitally important to hold onto the essence of your story, to keep sight of the ideal. Even if it doesn't quite reach the perfection you imagined, you'll only get there by trying.

Has this happened to you before? How do you keep sight of your story?


  1. I'm facing that problem right now -- keeping sight of my story. Not the story in one book, but the continuing story in a series. I have those glimpses of each book in the series -- those flashes of brilliance -- but nailing down the plots, the conflict, the arcs for each central character? Tricky!

  2. The way I avoid this is I don't allow myself to write that SNI until I've been thinking about it for months. Maybe years. Then, when I've finally decided to take the plunge with it, I write a beat sheet. And a practice query. Both these things keep me focused on what I want to accomplish with the story. So then if I lose it, I can just look back at my notes and find it again

  3. I do lose sight too, especially when I start struggling with complicated plots. I have to remind myself to keep the fun and adventure in the story, and ask myself, what am I doing to make the reader want to be part of this story?


Thanks for adding to the mayhem!