There’s a million reasons why a book takes a long time to finish. Mostly it’s because the writer wants to provide the best possible story to their audience ensuring everything is interesting, engaging and able to evoke emotions/messages. Sometimes this involves changing the plot altogether for the sake of the story.
I’ve had to go through this recently despite finishing the first draft of the other plot. While it felt kind of disheartening at first, there are a few lessons I learnt throughout this process. This week I will mainly be talking about the main three things!
It’s not about just ‘finishing’ a story
Amidst the stress of trying to finish a debut novel, there was a point during writing where I simply wanted to ‘finish’ a story. I know I did a post about books taking years to finish. Even knowing I wrote that post, this mindset really does creep up on you in the heat of the moment. It actually took a few discussions with my sisters to realize that should only be part of your goal not the entirety of it. After pushing myself out of that unhealthy point of view, I began to see the flaws in the initial plot. What could be changed. What could be better.
This is exactly why books take a long time. If you rush a story, there’s a big chance you’ll wish you took more time with it after a while. It’s better to take years writing one story then finishing one and regretting what you did with it.
Change can bear good fruit
The single most exciting thing about the plot change was that it made the whole story ten times more interesting than I ever thought it could be. Most of the characters are the same and even the initial plot has simply taken a different shape but the basic foundation hasn’t changed. In some ways, doing this change provided more chances to build the plot, side-plots and add extra characters to provide flavour to the story. Flavour does everything for the story. It allows the reader to root for characters, feel emotions in major or even minor events.
If a story lacks that then there’s really no point in writing it (or reading it). So this change has definitely bore good fruit for the story as an entirety. I also found myself becoming more excited for the possibilities in the change. There’s a lot more tension and characters that have more depth to them instead of just walking descriptions moving through a plot that was running a little too smoothly.
The story isn’t supposed to be easy to write per say. I believe you’re supposed to feel vulnerable to the plot and what happens to it which was something I didn’t feel before I changed it. These are all subtle things in writing a book but you’d be surprised at how important they become.
You understand your story better
My initial fear when changing the plot was the thought that I’d need to start all over again from scratch. The mere thought after finishing the first draft was a mood dropper to say the least. However, it turns out that you don’t always have to start from scratch. For example, during the plot change, the character names and personalities stayed similar. All I had to do was build and twist ever so slightly in order to make it fit with the world.
The world was a bit more complicated at first but I took pieces from the original world build and applied the characteristics into the changed setting. Despite my fears, rewriting the plot and environment was far more smooth compared to when I started writing out the first plot.
While the original plot took me around a month to figure out, this new plot took me only a few days. It was essentially piecing together bits of the old plot and turning it into a foundation. Then from there, I built the new plot to create more interest. In some ways, making this new plot was a lot more fun and quick to think up because I’ve written this story before. Maybe it doesn’t look or seem like the same story but as a writer, you have a familiarity with it now.
You understand it therefore know how to make it better, how to make it mean something so when a person sees it on their bookshelf, they can remember what it made them feel like. This is truly one of the biggest reasons why writers want their books published in the first place.
That’s all we have this week! I could keep writing lessons I’ve learnt while making stories because there’s just so many intricate things to talk about. However it’s good to voice out lessons one at a time so it doesn’t make your head hurt. None of us need the extra headache especially right now. Hope you’re all staying safe and healthy!