Blogs and books about writing fiction and getting published contain tons of helpful tips and suggestions. I’ve read many and have been surprised by how consistent the advice is across various sources. Read a few and you’ll have step-by-step instructions for the universal best practices writers must follow.
Except they don’t. I know quite a few well enough to know how they go about writing a novel. No two tackle the job the same way. My advice would be to try the prescriptions, but if they don’t work for you, find something that does.
My process is still…evolving, and has been different for each of my books. But whether I plan all the details out ahead of time or make them up as I go, there comes a time when I get stuck. The story comes to a screeching halt. I can’t write another word until I figure out a way to get through whatever stopped me.
I reached that point on my latest novel about three weeks ago. The rest of the story is clear, so I know where I want to go. The debate revolves around all the different ways to get there.
In the midst of my angst comes word that After Christmas Eve needs some work in the romance department before my publisher will consider it. Doh. I should have known.
So here’s where my process comes into play. I’m what you might call a continual improver, editing as I go, so that by the time I reach the end, the rest is almost a final draft. Once I polish up the ending, I get it off to the publisher for consideration and move onto my next project.
The simple truth is I’m just not smart enough to think about two projects at the same time. Oh I can tinker with wording here and there. But changing the story take a lot of brain power. I’m stuck in place with the new one because my mind is back on After Christmas Eve. Thinking about the story and my options for moving forward take all my creative energy.
So yesterday I just accepted that fixing After Christmas Eve needs to be a priority. I’ve gone back to page one and am working through some changes. The more I think about what I’m going to do, the more I see how to make a good story even better.
And if I get stuck, I can always go back to the new one!