Thursday, February 11, 2010

Don't Force Your Story Into Something It Isn't

While I am a big believer in plotting and planning, I am also someone that believes in the organic quality and development of a story. We need to know where the story is going, but we also have to trust the characters and the story to do it. It is that approach to your writing that will provide that honest voice to your writing. The words will simply flow off the page.

A writer friend of mine, decided to play around with the steam punk genre. She loved reading it and she really had a great idea behind the story. Still, as she moved through the story, something wasn't right. She would read it to herself and the words just lumbered off of the page. She did what any quality writer would do. She just let the story do what it wanted to do. It is now a straight up historical and things are going well.

For many writers, the problem with forcing a story into something it isn't stems from looking at your story in small pieces as opposed to the big picture. While you might love that little scene, or you might love that conflict you have created, you have to take the time to really consider how everything fits together as a whole. Does that small scene really work with the total package?

I am reminded of my mother in law and her home decorating. She would visit people's homes and see things people had done. She would then come home and try to do the same thing in her house and, of course, it would fail. Why? because while the idea worked in one place, forcing the idea into her house didn't.

Your story can really only be one thing. It is your job as a writer to figure that out. Otherwise, you will be disappointed with the outcome and yes, you will be seeing some rejections.



  1. This blog poses a question I've had for a long time. I usually include a mystery with a romance, but it's more a romance plot than mystery. The mystery facilitates the romance. So, are you saying, the the mystery dilutes the story (hence rej) if you portray it as romance? Geez, can you tell I'm confused! :o)

  2. Barbara,
    I think you are trying to make this harder that it is. If you have a story with a mystery element, then so be it. The deal would be if you tried to make it only a romance or only a mystery. From what you said, it is a romance with a mystery element, so work with that. It isn't one or the other.

  3. Thanks. I'll ease up. I'm a multi-character per book writer who loves to dabble in secondary character's lives to a minor degree. But one hero/heroine always rule. This will probably kill me as a writer, but I can't stop the parade of people who walk into my mind and books. They amuse my 'muse'!

  4. Better hope your monster-in-law doesn't read your Blog!!! Ha Ha!

    Seriously though, I love your blog. Your insights into the industry are invaluable,as is your technical advice, and you seem like a real down-to-earth (hence trustworthy) person.


  5. Scott,

    Thanks for having the uncanny ability to read my mind :) I was struggling with this issue in a MS I've started, feeling like I was moving them along too slowly, when the characterization didn't allow for a fast-paced physical involvement. It's nice to hear professional "support" of that plotting tactic. That said, I'm going to keep on the track I am, and not worry about making this particular novel land them in bed at a certain, designated time.