day eighteen: how to listen to your story.

You can bully your story into where you want it to go. 

You are the author after all. You hold the power. Your hands can hesitate before typing the sentence. You may feel the burn — what it feels like when a character comes alive inside of you and pushes out through your fingertips — 

but you don't have to answer their call. 

You don't have to listen. 

But if you want your story to sprout wings, hunker down for the whisper.

At first, I manipulated my characters in EVERY SHATTERED THING. In fact, for a brief moment, that story was pushed out into the world before it was time and the result was a shoddy script of a manuscript and an ending that was fabricated out of what I thought other people would want to read. 

Meaning, I didn't listen to my story. 

When my publisher went under and I got my rights back, it was the most perfect kind of kismet. I snatched the book off the shelves quick, fast and in a hurry and I rewrote the scenes that left me feeling achy because I didn't listen to my gut. I stayed true to Stephanie's character. I stopped caring what others would say. I sat at the computer and waited for her to speak and then — and only then — did I begin to write.

This was where the new ending was born. 

And you know what? I experienced more flow in that editing process than I did in the last year and a half of writing and trying to wrangle the plot into submission. Allowing it to take shape and giving the characters freedom to act out of their own personality (and not the manufactured version I wrote the first time around) gave me insight into how so often we can allow a story to leave our hands before we've had the chance to really understand the characters. 

So you can choose to ignore the whispers of plot and story and character while writing. Your manuscript won't be as strong as it could be though if you just let the book speak. 

Listen. Get quiet and away from all of the distractions and people telling you what makes a good story and how to engage readers with this type of scene and yada-yada-yada —

and make sure your story speaks. 

Without it, readers will never know the power of your words.


Need more inspiration? Introducing Hustle & Flow: a weekly letter with artistic visioning for the everyday creative. I would love it if you signed up, and I won't ever spam you. Promise. 

You'll get hints and anecdotes about getting unstuck and living your most artistic life within the midst of your every day poetics. AND, if you sign up during October, you'll get some special extras dealing with indie-publishing.

Posted on October 18, 2014 and filed under indie publishing, writing.