The Start of A Story
The writing process has always been a rollercoaster of a ride for me.
I really enjoy the first part of the process—choosing a concept for a story—because that’s the easiest part (at least for me).
I’ve never been short on ideas for stories. I have so many notebooks, documents, and journals full of story concepts and world-building ideas, so all I have to do is pick one.
Last year, when I first started writing my novella, it didn’t take long for me to choose an idea that had me fired up and so excited to write.
But then…I actually started writing.
Concept VS Execution
The first chapter was…okay. I could live with it. But as I kept writing, I started to second-guess myself.
By the time I was eight chapters in, I hated my story. It felt cliche, boring, and trite. I couldn’t figure out why I didn’t like it until I reread my original idea for the story.
That’s when I realized that the concept I had envisioned so clearly in my head before I started writing was nothing like the story that had made it onto the pages.
Because my novella was so different from what I had imagined, I immediately assumed that I was wasting my time with this story. That, even if I finished it, it wouldn’t be a good story, no one would like it, and I could never publish it.
The Story Behind The Story
Even though I despised the story, I kept writing and I did finish it. After that, I gave it to Michaylah Malone who read and developmentally edited it.
When she gave me her report a week later, I was surprised when she told me that she really enjoyed the story.
I mean, how could she like a story that was so cliche and different compared to its original concept?
That’s when I realized…Michaylah didn’t know what the original concept was. All she saw was the story I had written. I was the only one who knew how I had wanted the story to turn out, so I was the only one who was upset that it didn’t turn out “the way it was supposed to.”
That was a really encouraging thought, but I still didn’t particularly like the story since it wasn’t the story that I originally wanted to tell.
5 Ways to Love Your Story
I made some additional edits to the story based on the notes Michaylah gave me before handing it off to my mentor and second developmental editor, Brad Pauquette.
Since Brad has a long history with the publishing industry, I was expecting a harsher critique this time around. So when he told me that he also liked the story, it was a huge shock.
Last week, I finished the second round of revisions on my novella, and now I’m starting to love it.
This isn’t the first time I’ve disliked a story of mine that other people have enjoyed, but it is the first time that I’ve actually learned something from the experience, so here are five lessons I’ve learned about how to love a story that I’ve written—and despised.
#1 Understand Why You Don’t Like It
What helped me the most in learning to love my story was understanding why I had hated it in the first place—in this case, the fact that it wasn’t the story I had originally pictured in my mind.
Because I had clung on so tightly to my original idea, I was biased against the story that I ultimately ended up with.
#2 Step Away From The Story
Because I didn’t like the story, I procrastinated making the second round of edits and worked on other projects instead. After setting the story aside for several months and then coming back to it, I was able to look at the story with fresh eyes and a new perspective.
#3 Sometimes The Stories You Write Aren’t For You
There’s a popular quote in the writing community by Robert Frost that states “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader” but I’m not sure that quote is completely accurate.
Stories are like jokes. Not everyone will understand or like them—even if most people do.
I didn’t understand or like my own story, but obviously, it didn’t mean that nobody else would.
#4 Your Story Will Improve
Sometimes it’s hard to look at my work and imagine what it will look like after it’s been fully edited.
When I write, I usually write as though I’m not going to be able to edit it later—even though I most definitely will.
This experience taught me to trust the process and choose not to give up on a project just because I don’t like it. That would be like throwing pancake batter away just because it’s not a pancake yet.
#5 Look For Reasons To Love Your Story
While I made the second round of revisions to my novella, I intentionally looked for dialogue, descriptions, and scenes that I liked.
I found…a lot. There were lines that I didn’t even remember writing, and I even laughed at a few parts.
I guess the important thing is opening yourself up to the possibility that maybe—just maybe—your work is almost never as bad as you fear it is.
Before You Go…
Do you find it difficult to be confident when it comes to your writing? What is the best story you’ve ever written?
Let me know in the comments!
Check out last week’s blog here!