Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Not only was it thundering and raining this morning, but I got a big ol' thunderclap in my head last night while working on my novel.

My character had been wrapped up in her new relationship, so wrapped up that she completely forgot about her main goal in life, the very essence of what she needs to accomplish in this story. And so had I.


When I realized just how close I'd coming to losing the thread of my story, I almost panicked. But then I thanked the Lord for showing me what I'd almost missed. Sheesh!

This only proves how intimate we can become with our story and our characters. Suddenly, we're not the all-knowing writer who can deftly move our characters around like pieces on a chessboard; we're actually in the story. We're feeling our characters' emotions. We're experiencing their lives. We're not in charge.

This can be a good thing and a bad thing.

1) Good because if we're that deeply involved in our story, our reader should be that involved, too (we hope). Good because we're pouring our heart and soul into the story. We're feeling it. And the reader will, too (we hope!).

2) Bad because it's very easy to let our characters off the hook instead of putting them through the ringer. Bad because without conflict and tension, the story is boring.

Solution: take yourself out of the story every once in awhile and look at it with an unbiased eye.

You can do this when you're writing the first draft if you're like me and want to get the story pretty fleshed out (i.e. all the plot points make sense, character GMC's, etc.) before the editing process, OR, you can do this in your editing stage.

Either way, it's essential.


  1. Great advice and glad you had your boom of inspiration.

  2. This is so true. I find that sometimes it helps to take a few days off from the writing and immerse yourself in another project, then come back to the story fresh. It's amazing the things you see once you pull yourself out of the story!

  3. Oh! I needed to read this today. I am about halfway through a first draft and last night I found that I'd become nearly lost in all of it. I feel like I almost need to step back and map what I've got out -- this is my first and it is starting to feel unwieldy!

  4. Wonderful advice, Melissa. I'm at exactly the same stage. I was getting bogged down in stuff and forgetting the main thread of the story ... which is why I've just deleted 6 - yes 6! - chapters.

  5. It's most definitely essential. Taking time away from the story can also help with this. But I also love that feeling of being right there with the characters ane experiencing everything with them. It's a balancing act, for sure.

  6. Travis - glad you found the advice helpful. :-)

    Joanne - Absolutely! Although if I take more than a day or two off from writing, I am taken "out" of the story too much. So it's a fine line.

    Lisa - Mapping it out is a good idea - I've had to do that on a number of occasions to get myself reoriented to the story.

    Shirley - You deleted SIX chapters? Oh dear heavens. I would have cried.

    Tess - Definitely a balancing act, and one I'm still trying to figure out!


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