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!


Margo Hoornstra said...

Oh, Lucy! Love it. I, too am working on what I've come to dub the never ending manuscript, though I've only been wrestling with this one for a little over a year. Isn't it amazing how we change and that makes our relationships to our stories change? Glad you and your characters arrived on the same page. Good luck with THE END!

Diane Burton said...

You & me, kiddo. Although I haven't been working on my novella as long, it seems like forever. Shall we race and see who gets done first? LOL

Lucy Naylor Kubash said...

I confess I have wanted to give up on this story so many times, but I made a promise to myself and the characters that I'd finish it once and for all, and finally this year, I will have finished it for the I Will Write a Book challenge!

Elizabeth Alsobrooks said... how long does it take to write the sequel to a 10-year novel? Great post. Writing is thought and seldom linear--sure isn't in my...oh, look, a bunny!

Unknown said...

Sometimes when I was writing The Beech Tree, which took about three years because I only wrote on weekends, the characters took over and I felt like I was just watching and recording their interactions. I did much of the writing in scenic locations -- like the deck of a bar overlooking the lake -- and I must admit I got a few odd looks as I was sitting there, typing furiously on my iPad, laughing and crying. Then I would stop and stare at the screen for a half hour. They must have thought I was nuts.

Lucy Naylor Kubash said...

I am known to watch birds, squirrels, play with the cats, oh wait, I forgot to let the dog in! The truth is my attention span seems to have gotten shorter the older I get. I used to sit and write for hours without barely looking up. Now I am lucky to sit a half an hour without getting up to do something,but the writing sprints have helped get me back to more of just letting it all out with less screen staring. Yep, I'm sure anybody watching us would think we are strange folks.