I haven’t had any great flashes of inspiration vis-à-vis blog posts this week (those have mostly been reserved for my novel, which I am TOTALLY OKAY WITH) so I’m just going to throw a writing problem out into the ether.
Namely: When should you stop changing things about your story and just leave them as they are?
To elaborate, anyone who’s been loitering in these parts for a while will know that I’ve been working on Faustina for approximately forever. I have started over from scratch twice and thrown out large chunks without actually starting over several more times. This is essentially because I hugely overestimated my ability to write without a plan. (New rule for myself is to never, NOT EVER start writing so much as a paragraph for another novel without working out a scene-by-scene plan first.) I keep realising that what I want to happen next doesn’t fit with what’s already happened and that in order to go forwards I have to go back (with a bulldozer). Every time that happens I have to figure out what needs changing and how to change it and although this is frustrating and hard it often leads me to ideas that were so much better than the ones I had before and I end up being grudgingly glad that I couldn’t finish the story based on the mediocre ideas that were there before.
Having said that, after this latest episode, where I hit a wall so hard that it left a me-shaped dent in it, like George of the Jungle hitting a tree…
…I am kind of done with this. I really don’t want to keep changing things. I just want to finish the bloody story. If that means tweaking elements until they all fit together, then fine (well, not FINE, but you know what I mean). Right now, I’ve just gone through a round of that. It was annoying but, once again, I feel like the story is better now. And like I can keep going with it, which is a definite improvement on being hopelessly stuck. I made changes and they led to progress. This is good.
But what about ideas about replacing parts of the story that are fine, in that they aren’t stopping me from finishing? What about ideas that would (maybe?) make the story a bit sparklier, a bit livelier, but would also not get me any closer to finishing this beast? After all this time, my gut feeling is that “finished is better than perfect”. But also, this is the thing I have worked longest and hardest on in my entire life. I want to have something awesome to show for that work. So can I really afford not to include every shiny idea that comes my way?
Other writers and creative people: HALP PLZ.