by LaTonya
(Charleston, SC, USA )

Question: I have a bit of writer's block, I suppose. I plotted and mapped out a great story. I wrote furiously, at least a chapter a day, for approximately three months. I lived and breathed my characters. I dreamt about them and had the get up to put in down while the details were fresh. I experienced the deaths of four people very close to me back to back over the following nine months and I stopped writing. Here it is six years later and my characters are crying out to me again to finish telling their story. I want to, but now having experienced what I have, I have the urge to change my characters story. This however, is not going over well with them. The dreams have began again and they have a story of their own story to tell. I am lost now as how to allow them to tell it. I had written up to the climax before i put it away for all these years. A few people have read it and are waiting for me to finish. I honestly don't know how to do this without picking apart my characters. Any advice??

Answer: Congratulations. You've passed the secret initiation and are now officially a fiction writer.

That's what happens when you reach that most excruciating dilemma where you are caught between your characters' demands to have their story told and your need to tell the story the way you think it should be told.

I could be brutally honest as well as comletely unhelpful here and say that this is a problem every writer must solve on his
or her own. For most people, that's what happens. You keep that problem alive in the forefront or background of your mind, day after day, until one fine morning the answer springs out of the depths of your subconscious and you feel exactly what you must do.

In the meantime, you have to be careful to avoid some of the pitfalls many artists hit when coping with the stress of this dilemma (i.e. substance abuse, moodiness, depression, shouting at your loved ones for no justifiable reason, pointless distractions, and self-abuse).

On the other hand, let me try to be more helpful.

Obviously you haven't told me why you want to change the story. There are good reasons for doing so - like a flash of inspiration that solves a problem within the writing, or that makes the story better.

However, rather than tearing down the entire edifice, why not finish the draft you are working on by letting the characters have their way? Trust them.

If, after you've had enough time to reflect on the finished book and perhaps have shown it to some people you trust, you can put your finger on something that isn't working, then you can always make changes in the second draft.

But which would you rather be, the kind of builder who never finishes anything because he keeps changing the design or one who builds a house that is slightly-less than perfect but, hey, it's still a great house and you can always renovate in a few years but at least for now you have a great place to live?

Or to put it another way, create first, judge later.

Click here to post comments

Join in and submit your own question/topic! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Questions About Novel Writing.

search this site the web
search engine by freefind

Celebrating our 2nd year as one of the...

 Step-by-Step Novel Planning Workbook

NEW! Make Money Writing Nonfiction Articles

"I've read more than fifty books on writing, writing novels, etc., but your website has the most useful and practical guidance. Now that I understand how a novel is structured, I will rewrite mine, confident that it will be a more interesting novel." - Lloyd Edwards

"Thanks to your "Create a Plot Outline in 8 Easy Steps," I was able to take a story that I simply just fooled around with and went willy nilly all over, into a clearly defined, intriguing battle where two characters fight to keep their relationship intact, and try to find a balance in control of themselves and their lives. Thanks to you, I'm not ashamed of the poor organization of my writing." - Nommanic Ragus

"I am so glad I found your site. It has helped me in so many ways, and has given me more confidence about myself and my work. Thank you for making this valuable resource, for me and my fellow writers. Perhaps you'll hear about me someday...I'll owe it to you." - Ruth, Milton, U.S.A.

"I never knew what to do with all the characters in my head, but since discovering Dramatica I am writing again in my spare time. Thank you for making this available. Yes, it is a bit complex, and it does take time, but I love it because it works." - Colin Shoeman

"I came across your website by chance. It is a plethora of knowledge, written in a simplistic way to help aspiring writers. I truly appreciate all of the information you have provided to help me successfully (relative term) write my novel. Thank you very much!" - Leo T. Rollins

"I can honestly say that this is the first website that is really helpful. You manage to answer complex questions in relatively short articles and with really intelligent answers. Thank you for taking the time to write these articles and sharing them so generously." - Chrystelle Nash

"...had no idea that a simple click would give me such a wealth of valuable information. The site not only offered extremely clear and helpful instructions but was a very enjoyable read as well. The education from your wonderful site has made me a better writer and your words have inspired me to get back to work on my novel. I wish to give you a heartfelt thanks for How to Write a Book Now, sir." -- Mike Chiero