Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere

The Rebirth of a Story

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Before I forget, have you had a chance to check out the Meet Your Main Character website? Pop on over and give it a gander. It’s freshly minted, so if you have any suggestions, let us know. We’ve got a great guest blog post soon to be featured on our site. Princess Bride fans will love it! Our first main post will give you a glimpse into the daily life of an immigration attorney/mother/writer. Our members are globetrekkers, and we’ll be posting pics from our more widely-traveled writers from time to time. It looks like Jan is sharing a moment in time from her trip to Peru. Come take a look!

Have you ever planned out a story in your head, and even went so far as to start an outline, or even (gasp!) writing it, then discovered the story arc doesn’t work. Or the plot line is way more complicated than it needs to be? Or the timeline just doesn’t make sense? If you haven’t, I envy you.

I’ve been working on the outline for my February self-imposed NaNoWriMo project, and I was struggling a bit with the second half of the story arc. I like to talk the story through while taking my walks outside. It’s been really mild here for January the past week or so, so I’m trying to take advantage of the weather before the January thaw is over. It feels like March! Anyway, as I was trying to work out the second half of the story arc, following the original arc I created a couple years ago, I realized why I was having trouble with it.

It was stupid.

Seriously. Here I am trying to work out how the characters would travel halfway across the country to work on an investigation for a crime. How would the characters get there? Why would both characters be there if only one is actively investigating? How could I work the “crossed paths” in without being too manipulative? And then, as I’m walking, mental head slap. Okay, it was accompanied by a physical head slap.

Duh. Why do the characters have to travel out of state? Why can’t the whole thing take place in the same state? There was no reason for the trans-continental travel, not really, except that it created extra activity. So, now I am working on a revision of the crime, which leads to a revision of the suspects, which leads to a revision of the story threads. (Shut up, Muse. Stop gloating. And you don’t have to remind me you told me so and that’s why the original draft didn’t work.)

Sigh. For those pantsers out there (you know who you are), what do you do when you get to that point in the story where any direction you want to go seems forced? Do you back up and rewrite an earlier scene or two? Do you just soldier on and make notes on what to revise later? This is one of those times I’m glad I went from pantser to outliner. I can’t help but wonder at the amount of work I’d have to do to revise the story arc after I’ve written half the novel.

So, back to the drawing board. How often have you written a novel or story that you initially thought had a great timeline and storyline, then realized it doesn’t make sense? How did you go about fixing it? Did you rewrite the whole thing? Rewrite the second half of the project? Maybe you changed a character or two to make the timeline more realistic. Does your muse try to tell you ahead of time the story isn’t working? Do you listen?

Enjoy the week, everyone!

Write on!

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Author: Julie Holmes, author

Pen name: J. M. Goebel A fiction writer since elementary school (many years ago), and NaNoWriMo annual participant for a decade, I've been published in small press magazines such as "Fighting Chance" and "The Galactic Citizen". Currently I have two polished novels ready for the world and a number of others waiting their turn. I write adult mystery with extrasensory elements, mystery with a touch of romance, contemporary fantasy, and epic fantasy. In real life, I am a technical writer with a family of two teens, a wonderful hubby, one cat (what writer doesn't have cats??), two dogs, six chicken, and more chipmunks, squirrels, and rabbits than any garden should have to deal with. My garden, our "au natural" hobby farm, and Ma Nature's annual seasons are some of my muses.

4 thoughts on “The Rebirth of a Story

  1. Actually, my characters seem to have a mind of their own and choose their own development or even ending. Quite annoying! 🙂

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  2. That is so annoying! I’ve had characters like that. They even avoid the hitmen I send out after them. Buggers! 🙂

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  3. If you’ve set up your story as an engrossing romp, your readers will believe anything. Here are some possibilities on why your gumshoe has to travel across the country or faraway lands: The killer has a villa there; your killer is also wanted by interpol for a transgression in Paris so your investigator has to go there; your good guy has to interview someone and they won’t talk on the phone… you get the idea.

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    • All great ideas. My initial reasoning for the travel was that the victim was being stalked by her ex-boyfriend. She moved to the other side of the state, he followed despite the restraining order. So she moved halfway across the country to escape him. I just couldn’t quite shoehorn the reason she was killed into the mix without it sounding too forced. I was good with the main investigator heading out to interview the roommate, and with the co-protagonist meeting him out there, but it was getting a bit convoluted.

      Oooo, I like the Interpol idea. Might have to file that one away for the future 🙂

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