Detours in Writing Fiction

I've mentioned before how I made a scene list for the book I'm writing right now. I'm still finding it a boon to my drafting process, but that doesn't mean it's set in stone. The great thing about actually getting into the drafting phase is that I start to not only know my characters, but I think like them. 
This often results in additional opportunities opening up that divert from my original course. For example, I originally planned to use Matthew Hopkins, a real person in history, as one of my characters. About 30,000 words in, I decided to place him as a background character. This will require some careful editing and revising of my first ten chapters but I believe it will be worth it because one of my main characters will be more active and less reactive. This will make the story more exciting.
So where does this leave me for NaNoWriMo
Um...which way?
Um...which way?
I'm not changing anything now. I've already decided that it's more important to press on, to get the draft written, than to go back and make this important change. Thankfully, some of the other detours I'm taking won't require so hefty a revision because I am following these new paths as I go along. 
My point is this: If you're planning to write a story--a story of any length--be prepared to divert from your planned course. This is fine; it's part of the process of drafting. Don't feel overwhelmed by the changes you make or plan to make. A draft of a story is like a living thing. It's dynamic. Nothing is really final until a work is published.
Besides, if you plan to submit your work to be traditionally published, you best get used to the notion that someone might ask you to make changes to your story. When you decide to publish something via a traditional route, you relinquish some creative control because you're not the only one calling the shots. Getting yourself used to making changes that require a decent amount of work is not a bad thing.
Always remember these words, drilled with kindness into my head during my graduate coursework by Paul Witcover:
"Write the story that needs to be written."
Check your ego. Your story is not about what you want to write. Stories take on an impetus all their own and it's the writer's responsibility to see that the story is told as it needs to be told. Chances are, these detours will serve your story well.
Don't be afraid to hike off the trail.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

How to Show vs. Tell in Historical Fiction

9 Assumptions about My First MFA Residency

3 Things Writers Never Want to Hear