My WIP novel, which I set aside several weeks ago after discovering I needed to eliminate a character, is underway once more. The solution to my other characters’ story arcs fell into place like puzzle pieces yesterday evening.
Let’s face it: brains are weird. In the face of a challenging, complex puzzle, the best thing I could do was put the puzzle away. I needed to allow my subconscious to do the dirty work, and I needed to be confident the answer would come.
It did, and in a great way: my MC accidentally reveals a secret to the wrong person, and sets off an unpleasant chain of events for the secondary characters (her family), which then contributes to her estrangement. It makes the twist at the end even more powerful when a heart-breaking secret is revealed to her.
This is not the story I set out to write in the beginning. I had no idea that this is where it would lead. When I look back over the two years I’ve worked on this book, I realize how immature/poorly-formed my original concept was.
I have a deeper appreciation now of what’s involved in a novel. The multiple arcs, the turning points, how to maintain conflict. The upside is I can plan these out for my newer projects, and save myself a lot of the back-tracking I have to do now.
It’s funny; I’ve been watching these MasterClass videos – and without fail, all the writers I’ve watched have said the same thing. Trust the process. They all have unique perspectives on the craft, about how much a writer should know about their worlds, how and when to break rules, and what makes for the most interesting characters. But they are unanimous in encouraging writers to trust the work of effective story-telling; that through our struggle to put the pieces together – no matter where we started – we can produce a coherent, even beautiful image.
We have to trust in that shitty first draft, which must be shitty because we need to tell ourselves the story before we can write it for others.
We have to trust in editing and revision, because that’s the only way shitty writing improves.
We have to trust ourselves to problem-solve, even when we aren’t staring at the page. By giving our work a ‘time-out’, we can tap into our subconscious. A brief, intentional step away can also be a massive step forward.
I’ll be so thrilled when I finish this novel, and that day draws nearer now that I have these secondary arcs outlined. It might even happen this year.