When the Story Comes to You

Face it. Sometimes writing is hard work.

Actually, a lot of times it’s hard. When you have to drag yourself out of bed early in the morning to have some time to work on that novel, that’s not always so fun. When the words don’t come, that’s not fun. And when you’re sitting in front of a blank page, a poorly written page, or even what you thought was a pretty good page, only to have it ripped apart by your critics, that’s not fun at all.

And in fact, even as I’ve written many, many novels, there is a lot of what I do that is just work. Like when I don’t know what to write until I write it. That’s not fun.

But sometimes, not often enough, the story comes to you. Sometimes when you are planning out your story, drafting a story, or finishing a story, the words can flow. And that’s fun, and good. I like it when the words flow like butter. I like it when I know what comes next. In fact, I find writing a whole lot easier when I know what to write.

That happens for me typically two places in my novels. I start out my stories as general outlines that eventually becomes chapter outlines. As the chapter outlines become more and more detailed, and I start including 3-5 scenes in each chapter, it’s when I can see the first and possibly second chapter in my head that I know it’s time to start writing. Until I can see it, I don’t write a word. But after it comes, it comes easily. Well, not completely easily, but more easily than it would otherwise.

The second place that it comes is in the last third of the book. I have established the characters in the first few chapters, I have taken time to establish the storyline, the conflict and the setting. And the story starts rolling along. It lumbers at first, but by the last third of the book, if I have planned it well, it will basically write itself. And that’s fun.

We all hope for an action-filled, exciting ending, but it takes a lot of structure in the first two-thirds to make that happen logically. Sometimes you have to struggle through some tough chapters on the path to that last third. But when you get there, it’s a lot more fun. It’s still work, but usually it’s not a slog at least.

One thought on “When the Story Comes to You

  1. I’m the other way round, in that if I don’t write, I can’t see the story. So outlines don’t really work for me, no matter how hard I try. Great post here, and I can totally relate. Thanks for sharing!

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