Writing Tip: Know When it’s Time to Change Your Story

“There are some books which refuse to be written. They stand their ground year after year and will not be persuaded. It isn’t because the book is not there and worth being written — it is only because the right form of the story does not present itself. There is only one right form for a story and if you fail to find that form the story will not tell itself.”

– Mark Twain
I had been struggling with a manuscript, TSOF, for over a year. I really love the first third of the manuscript, but the rest kind of limps along, sometimes working well, other times leaving me with a huge, “What the?” I dropped this project for a bit since I’ve been inspired by my historical fiction WIP, but now I’ve had some time away, I’ve gotten a new perspective about TSOF.
The progression of this manuscript has been interesting, as my critique buddies could attest to. TSOF was originally narrated in third person, and it really didn’t work well. A couple rewrites later, I played around with the narration of different characters, and voila! The winning narrator was my protagonist, Michael, who I dearly love. Part of the reason is he is inspired by my nephew, Michael, who passed away a few years ago. Lest you think I’m going to get all weepy, fear not. The main reason I adore my character is he is all the bits of boyhood I like–a creative problem solving, curious, loyal, thoughtful teen with a flair for adventure.

My problem has been this…I was trying to write this manuscript as a fantasy adventure, and the more I’ve been working on revisions, the more I’m sure it doesn’t work as a whole. All the sweat hours put in. And. Nothing.

Which is why reading Mark Twain’s quote is so apropo. It gives me a bit of solace and great advice that only the right story will tell itself. So, back to the drawing board. I’m going to keep positive since the first third of the manuscript is staying. It’s just the rest that needs to be majorly scrapped.
So, how are you doing with your writing?
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Vivian Lee Mahoney

Consider yourself warned: I write books about rebels. I'm also a postergirlz for readergirlz, a literary advisory group for teens. Who knew going back to the teenage years would be so rewarding?

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