Recently I started writing a new novel. The characters are solid, the story is deep and intriguing and the setting is fun and interesting. I normally write with a general idea of where I want the story to go and let it take me there. This time I had a clear idea how I wanted to end it. So I set out to get to that ending. I had a plan.
Each chapter is where and how I want it, the story and character are progressing perfectly then bam! It’s not. Suddenly where it’s going and where I want it to end up don’t line up anymore. I sat back and thought about it. Do I want the story to continue on the line it derailed along? Or do I want to backtrack or maneuver it back in line with the planned ending? I liked where the new angle was going but it couldn’t go where I originally wanted. if I went back and put it back on course then I couldn’t fit in the new angle I spontaneously created… Hmm.
I must have gone back and forth on this for days. It was weird, I could imagine both but neither at the same time. It wasn’t writers block, but a fork in the road of my novel.
As a result I set the story aside. I think about it and play it out in my head. I contemplated ideas, made notes and mulled and mulled until I could mull no more. Then it hit me.
Either I write two versions of the story or I forge a new fork in the road and take it a whole other direction. Whoa! What? Now I have three options. Great, just freaking great.
However the more I thought about a third open option the more excited I became. The what if’s started piling up and I realized something important.
I was limiting myself.
If I had veered off in the first place then the original plan might not be right anymore… It’s not wrong, it’s still good, but maybe it went stale with how I felt the story needed to go.
Now that I’ve decided to broaden my thoughts on the ending I’m not stuck staring at the only two options I limited myself to. Story writing for me is organic, it’s not set in stone before I begin. More often than not, I create as I go. I had an idea for this one that is exciting beyond belief to me, and I didn’t realize I’d painted myself into a corner by thinking the ending I wanted to get to was the only one.
My advice about unplanned forks in the road.
There is no right or wrong way to write a story, you can sit and let it happen as you type, you can plan rigorously each step of the way or you can work from a general outline. Whatever works for you is the way to approach. Don’t be afraid to try a different approach or go back to an old one.
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