Friday, April 16, 2021

Breaking Up with Your Story

 Have you ever had a story idea so perfect that it practically wrote itself? There’s something so thrilling about getting an idea for a story, plotting it out, watching it take shape on a storyboard. But have you ever sat in your writing chair only to realize, 35,000 words later, that your beloved story idea was dead in the water? Today, let’s chat about 3 signs that you need to break up with your story.

1. You find every excuse in the book to avoid your writing.

Sometimes life throws so many curve balls that you’re simply out of creative energy to sit down and connect with your story, much less your reader (and that’s okay!). But sometimes that avoidance is founded on a broken interest with your current piece.

There are lots of reasons for this break, and none of them are bad ones, but if you find yourself dreading the very thought of writing, it may be your cue to stick your current work in progress on the shelf and go back to the drawing board.

2. You just cannot connect with the main character.

Writing fictional beings who are interesting and relatable into existence is nothing short of a miracle. This means that sometimes the character you need to lead the story, isn’t one that you can connect with (and in extension write) well. And that’s oooooookay!

There could be any of a hundred reasons you can’t quite vibe with your MC. Maybe they need a bit more stewing time to come out fully fleshed, or maybe you need more research/ life experience under your belt before you tackle this particular character again. Either way, if you just cannot connect with your protagonist, it might be time for a cooling-off period.

3. Your writing partners hold an intervention

When your critique partners tell you that you might need a break from your WIP, it’s a fairly reliable hint that you and your story need a break.

Words reflect the writer. Read that again. Words reflect the writer. They hold our beliefs, interests, and truest emotions, so if your story is giving off corpse vibes (and it’s not a zombie thriller), it might be your clue to put it down for a bit.

I don’t want you to see these crafting breaks as a failure because they are anything but that. They are a chance for you to jump back on those gorgeous creative parts of yourself and stir things up a bit. It’s a self-granted opportunity to be curious about the world and wait for one idea to lure you back to the page in promise. There is no reason you can’t go back to a project you set aside, and I hope you do, but there’s a great expression of self-love when we have the courage to set something down and try something else. And that is what I hope you will give yourself permission to do because writing is magical. We take the same 26 letters and rearrange them over and over to connect with people we’ve never even met. We don’t know one thing about. And that is such a lovely gift from one human to another. So be nice to the writing side of that dynamic, and give yourself permission to set aside the piece that isn’t working (yet) for the one that’s dying to come into the world.

Happy writing.


Diane Burton said...

Maybe that's why I don't want to work on a certain book. I've set it aside for now.

Mary Morgan said...

Interesting, April. For the first time, I'm working on two projects because the first one just didn't draw me into the story. I kept 'sighing' each time I looked at the manuscript.

Maureen said...

I have such a hard time giving up on a story.

Tena Stetler said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Interesting. I usually have two or three stories going at a time. One in edits, one in research and one that I am writing. That way If one story isn't cooperating (I am a panster and sometimes the characters don't cooperate), I move on to the another one. Eventually, they all come together but at different times. LOL