Muddled up ideas

by Nell
(Derbyshire)

Question: My entire story stemmed from one simple image of a soldier & a firing squad. The problem is that since then I have created proper detailed characters out of generic-soldier-man and his family. The problem is that the characters and the setting have also evolved a lot and as I'm terrible for paying all my attention to the characters and ignoring the plot the initial image of doesn't quite fit the soldier's character anymore (He's grown a lot), yet is essential to my main character (his wife) as it is the first of a chain of events that have a massive effect on her life. I'm torn between adapting what I have, or changing it and deleting all that it causes in the life of my main character which would kind of screw up the point of the story and her character development. I realise this explanation is confusing at best and difficult to make sense of but I'd appreciate what help you can give.


Answer So we basically can say you have three options...

1. Reconnect with the original image and the idea that inspired you and revise everything you've done since to satisfy the demands of that concept.

2. Ditch the original image and keep all the work you've done (perhaps look for a different event to impact the main character).

3. Find a creative way to do both. In other words, keep the original concept and what you've done since and find a way they can work together.

I can't tell you which is the best choice, but I will suggest that you go with the option that you feel the most passion for, the one that interests you most.

I would also suggest that you not rush into a decision. Take your time. Perhaps set the story aside for a week or more and work on something else.

Often, your subconscious will continue to work on the story ideas while you're busy with other activities. When you come back to the story after a break, you may find that the answer seems obvious.

Also, if you have trouble getting clear on what your plot should be, try writing a simple logline (using any or all of the three possibilities above) using the following formula...

After AN EVENT THAT CHANGES EVERYTHING, a UNIQUE AND SYMPATHETIC CHARACTER attempts to ACHIEVE A GOAL OR RESOLVE A PROBLEM by PLAN OF ACTION in order to prevent SOMETHING BAD HAPPENING. This becomes increasingly difficult because OBSTACLE OR COMPLICATION. But then a crucial choice SPECIFY leads to SUCCESS OR FAILURE.

The process of writing these loglines often reveals which story idea is strongest.

Best of luck.

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