If the title of this article insinuates that writers might be writing a novel other than the one they want to write, that is exactly what I am proposing, and I’ll explain.
First comes the great idea. We love it. Really love it. It’s the kind of idea that occupies our minds every single waking moment.
We talk about it to our friends, and by doing so the idea grows into a more developed story. We think this is going to be a great novel.
Now the story has to make it to paper.
Chapters form, and we feel the glow of writing a “real thing” – a living story that we know is going to become the novel we’ve seen in our head for months.
And then we take those precious chapters to a writers group or to a group of friends to read aloud and hear some feedback.
It’s probably the first time we hear our words out loud.
The novel we want to write stands alone, naked and exposed to the thoughts and comments of others.
Other people are not only our sounding boards they are our future readers. That makes them a valuable source of input on whether or not our story resonates, whether or not our characters are empathetic and whether or not our story feels like it’s going someplace.
So do we listen to what others say about our work and make changes even if those changes move the story away from the novel we want to write?
I wish I had a perfect answer. I don’t. But I do have an answer.
It is impossible to get a true consensus of opinion among friends or a writers group. There aren’t enough people. It’s math and the real consensus will come when we publish, and we see how many people out there in the wide world like what we’ve written.
It’s a gamble. We are gambling the novel we want to write against the novel others want us to write.
We can get first impressions, a potential consensus, and if enough people feel something is missing from our writing then I personally would take a look at what that might be.
Whether or not the input we receive is enough to alter our original idea is up to how strongly we know that idea; really know how it will play out beyond those few shared chapters.
There are ways to hone an idea and a story to be sure we know it well, ways that will assure the novel we want to write will survive feedback, editing and revision. Keep testing it. Test the plot, the characters and their arcs and keep sharing the work.
The bond between writer and story should get stronger not weaker the more it is shared and revised. If that bond gets weaker then maybe the idea wasn’t as good as it appeared in the beginning. Always fight for a good story with the understanding that writing anything means listen to feedback and carry on.
Christina for PenPaperWrite, Inc.
Want to take an idea all the way to a novel? The next 60 Scenes® Writing Method 1-Day Workshop is July 21st in Atlanta, GA. We limit the class to 15 participants.
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I took this course a couple of months ago and loved it. The time flew by and I left wanting more. There were some great techniques shared and I was inspired to start writing again. I’m glad my wife found this course and nudged me to attend. I think the best part is the support continues after the class ends. It is well worth the time and money to attend! – James B.
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