Friday, July 1, 2016

Fired-Up Friday

How Long Does It Take?


To write a story, or a blog, or a novel? For anyone who has never taken on that venture you might wonder if it’s a month long commitment (short story), a few hours (an article or blog) a year, or maybe years (novel). Many authors are able to write several shorter novels or books a year, while others work diligently on one longer book for several years. I have to confess that the book I am currently writing and hope to finish very soon has taken over ten years to get to this point. Even before that it started out as a short story that never sold, but apparently it was one that wouldn’t leave me alone.

When I decided to expand the story into a novel, it started out well and everything was working. Since I’d already written the short, I knew who the main characters were and had no problem figuring out what came next. But short stories and novels are two entirely different creatures. Most short stories you can get away with just two main characters and maybe one or two secondary. Not so with a novel. You need other people in the book for your hero and heroine to interact with, to cause trouble for them, and to maybe help lead them to the conclusion. Trouble is, you need to keep track of those other folks and make sure they also get some kind of happiness or comeuppance, whichever they most deserve.

It might have helped if I’d written out a complete synopsis or an outline to begin with, but from the get-go this book just didn’t want to behave; so even if I had, I think it still would have led me astray. It became quite a struggle and there came a day when I just didn’t know what was going to happen next. I couldn’t figure out what so-and-so was doing or why and what was worse, I began not to care. I could have gone on, beating my head against the wall, to try and finish the book, and for a while I did. Then came the day when I finally said, this is it, no more, and I shelved the book. There were other projects I wanted to work on that required much less torture and that were ready and waiting to be finished. So I moved on, and I let that book drift to the back of my mind. Chalk it up to one that just didn’t work.

What made me decide to go back and finish it this many years later? Not really sure, except as life changes you sometimes see things differently and new ideas begin to find their way in. Or perhaps it’s that your mind isn’t taken with dozens of life experiences and problems and you suddenly are able to concentrate on something that once seemed so difficult. Or maybe the characters just started talking again, and you realize that this time you have to give them their just desserts or their happy ending, and let them ride off into the sunset.

It’s still taken a while but this time The End is in sight, and most probably I will finally be able to write those words in the next week or two or maybe even sooner. What a trip it’s been and one I hope not to repeat, although the journey of discovering who these people are and what story they’re trying to tell me is one I’ve come to love. While it will be a relief to finish the book, I know I’ll miss them and already there is another story percolating, one that takes Shane and Allison to another place and new adventures. There’s even a line in the book that hints at a sequel. Yikes!

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