Change

I feel like I’ve lost motivation on my story again. Not because it’s hard to write, but because nothing about it seems fresh anymore. I have it all planned out, and something about just writing what I already have planned is almost harder than making it up as I go along.

It takes some of the magic out of it. That magic that I felt when I first came up with certain ideas. By the time I get to write those ideas, I’ve thought about them so much that I’m tired of them. I know they still need to go on paper, but it’s hard to make myself write them down when they seem overdone. Dry, burnt. Like chicken.

I love my story. But it’s like being in love with a person. Sometimes it starts to feel stifled, and I need some space. The great thing about a person is that they’re always changing, and I’m always changing, and we can experience new things. But a story…. once it’s worked out, there isn’t a whole lot that can be surprising about it. It is how it is. Sometimes I consider changing it so it’s new to me again, but I don’t know if I could.

I think that’s one of the hardest things about trying to write. Attempting to keep the feel of the story fresh for the readers, even though it doesn’t seem fresh at all to me. Even though when I read it and think about it, I get sad when I realize how much of that magic has really gone.

How much it has changed, too, from the original idea to what it is now. It’s the same story, but it ends very differently than I had originally planned. The entire feel of the ending has changed. The secondary idea, which I mentioned in a previous post is NOT much related to the primary idea, didn’t exist when I first came up with the story. It came about so late that I actually had the entire story planned out to the end for several months before that secondary idea even made a blip in my mind.

So two stories really exist in my head. The original, and the new. I’m convinced that the new one works better. That it’s truer to the tone of the story, and to the characters, and to me. But I kind of wonder which my husband and Raine and other readers would prefer if I were to write both versions. I wonder, if they were both down on paper, if I would even prefer the new one.

Sometimes when I listen to music that reminds me of the original version, I start to miss that version. I start to think that branching off into that secondary idea was a mistake. That the original story was how it should be, that it was so much more simple, that it was somehow purer and better and more right.

Then I think about the characters who wouldn’t exist in the story if I didn’t have the secondary idea. A couple of them are some of my favorite characters. Cutting them from the story would be hard for me. Like when I have to kill characters and I don’t want to, and I get stuck for a long time. I’m sure that would happen. I would miss them. I would wish they were still there.

Would having a simpler, less complicated, more focused story make up for that?

That is my dilemma. I can see the good and bad of both stories. The ending of the story is sad in a lot of ways. It can’t really be any other way because of the content. The original ending is, in some ways, more sad. But again, it’s simpler. It embraces starting over and moving on.

The new ending is sad in other ways. There are more deaths, more tragedies, etc. There are more characters, and that means more people who are affected by the things that happen. This ending embraces strength, resolve, and growth.

They both work in my mind, but there are a few reasons I prefer the new ending.

1. The old ending involves the four main characters leaving their home. But that goes kind of strongly against character for two of the people. It doesn’t seem right for them, even though it does seem right for the other two. The new ending has the two pairs split. The one pair leaves, and the other doesn’t.

2. The new ending incorporates my interest in Alaska and native cultures much more thoroughly. It’s there in the original, but not in as much detail as I would like. I don’t know how many other stories I’m going to write that will be as obliging to involve this interest. I kind of want to milk it for all it’s worth.

3. I’ve mentioned this already… I don’t know if I can ax those characters. Some of them would be gone from the book entirely, or else would be mentioned only in passing, if I went with the old idea. Those new characters are as much a part of the story to me as any of the original people, and I would be very sad to lose them.

4. As Raine told me when I complained about all of this to her via text, simpler doesn’t mean better. Clarity is important. If I can organize all of the various branches of this new idea, it can work just fine even if it is more complicated. I just need to do it well and not leave a bunch of holes.

5. I can’t ignore the simple fact that I chose this idea over the original. When I got to part 3, I had the option to go either direction, and I chose the new direction. I’m so far into the middle of it now that editing it out would be a project. Not one I want to get into until I’m sure.

I know if I wanted to think about it some more, I’d come up with more reasons to go with Door #2. But for now, the above are enough to convince me that I should keep doing what I’m doing until I get feedback that says otherwise. Or until I come up with some very compelling reason to change my mind.

Even just from the time I started this post to now, I feel better. Maybe all I needed was to get my thoughts on paper so I could understand them better. Or maybe I needed Raine to tell me not to do anything crazy. Both helped.

If any other fiction writers out there have any suggestions on how to deal with this kind of mental dilemma, I’d appreciate hearing them.

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2 responses to “Change

  1. I have been thinking about your conundrum for a while now, and decided, you are right. The magic is gone out of it. Of course, I haven’t read your story, and don’t have any real basis to form this decision. Except that it’s what you believe. If you describe it like dry, burnt up chicken, it probably is.
    I also see another problem lurking in your thought process that you didn’t immediately identify. You feel obligated to have the story planned out before writing it, and to stick to that map like glue on a kindergartner’s desk.
    DON’T DO IT.
    I have known several authors who had nothing more than a character they knew really well before starting writing, and plenty others who never knew the ending until it was written. You have two possible maps. Don’t stick to either of them. Stick to the passion that made you love the story to start with. Listen to the music, look at the pictures, create the environment that made you want to write. Follow your passion into the story, let the characters tell you the story as you write it, and be damned the plan!

    • That is good advice 🙂 I don’t want to feel stuck with one thing. I guess I will just write and see where it goes. Knowing me, it will be another 500 pages long by the end, but I guess that would just give me more to work with. I want to like what I write, and I think I probably have gotten so concerned with the way it was playing out that I don’t like it as much as I could. I need plans to a certain extent, but… too much planning is stifling. Thanks!

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