Rolling With Something Different

Most of the time, I know what to expect from my writing, at least in a very general sense. A very, very general sense. Hold on, I need to tell Saul to stop laughing at me. πŸ˜‰

As I was saying, there are certain constants in my writing world and I kind of rely on them. Every now and then, though, something comes along, throws those constants out and eats my brain. Okay, that was kind of graphic, but it’s what happened to me on Monday.

And really, who expects to have a story eat their brain on a Monday? Certainly not this writer.

Honest, I was minding my own business, when I got attacked. Okay, that’s a lie. I was making notes for the first book of Ashes and Angels. Blame Saul for that one. He’s got no patience, even though I won’t get to start writing him until JANUARY (God, I want to start now).

I really have to stop sidetracking myself like this. As I was saying, I was just making some notes, and then I got this idea. One I had to write. Like immediately. It was a short story about a ghost trapped in an apartment. I was like, um, okay brain, since when do we write ghost stories? But the brain wasn’t done with the burning of my constants. Not by a long shot.

The story wanted to be told in first person. “I”. I never do that for actual manuscripts. I’ve done it for a few character exploration bits, because I want to crawl inside my character’s skin and see what it looks like from in there and first person is a good way to do that.

Man, I’m being rather gross today. I’m almost sorry about that. πŸ˜‰

Anyway (seriously self, stop interrupting!), I sat down and wrote the story. It turned out a touch longer than I expected, but that’s because I’d missed something that had to happen in my initial purely mental planning on the story. I now have a 2500 word story that gave me all the feels while I was writing it.

That’s a good sign, right?

So why am I telling you all this, other than my usual need to share everything about my writing? Because this story reminded me of something important. Every story is different. They all require something different of us as writers, either in process, subject or style. In this case, I hit two out of three. Every story you ever write could happen differently. I’m not talking about the actual substance of the story either.

Just because one book works when you use a particular writing process doesn’t mean they all will. I’m now up to nine novels written (omg, really?) and I have to tell you, no two were precisely the same in process. The variations were largely minor, but not always. And I rolled with it because every story has its own needs and even the volumes of a trilogy are their own story.

Sometimes I plan more, sometimes less. Sometimes I use one point of view character, sometimes two. I haven’t had more than two yet, but if I need more, I’d at least try it. And if a novel worked best in first person, I’d do it. That hasn’t happened yet, but I won’t rule out the possibility.

I think we all need to listen to the needs of our stories in order to tell them best. Yes, that includes during revisions. I remember rewriting the ending of Bound three times because I kept feeling like it wasn’t right. What fixed that? When I listened to the story and realized I’d missed a part. I ended up adding one full chapter and totally reworking half of another, but when I was done, I had a good ending.

So I continue to listen as my stories whisper their needs and I generally run with whatever the story asks for. It’s stood me in good stead. Of course, I won’t know if this short story has steered me right for a few days yet. I’m letting it sit for a bit. I’ll have to remember to let you know when I go back for first round of revisions.


About Julie

I'm a writer and photographer. I always have something with me to take notes for ideas or writing projects I'm thinking about or have on the go. I also like to go around with my camera and take pictures of anything that strikes me as beautiful or evocative. I'm perpetually working on one story or another, while waiting for enough distance to judge the last one (or more). I'm always working on several projects at once, developing the next book, even as I'm editing the last. Beyond that, there's always plenty of scraps and twists of ideas rolling around in my head, eventually turning themselves into full blown stories.
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2 Responses to Rolling With Something Different

  1. jmmcdowell says:

    Well, I’m nowhere near 9 novels yet, but I know what you mean. Each story seems to require a different approach, whether in the degree of planning or how “hands on” the characters are, for example. I’m definitely not one of those writers who can force the stories and characters to do things my way!

    • Julie says:

      I’m not either. My characters have upended my plans on a number of occasions. I’ve learned to just go with them. I never win the fight anyway and they’re almost always right. πŸ˜‰

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