If you’ve read my bio, you might know I tumbled into writing somewhat accidentally. While speculating how J.K. Rowling might go about starting up another series based on the Harry Potter universe, I discovered how much fun it was to write fantasy. So for the last six years, I’ve been working on my Hogwarts story, learning everything I could about writing to make the story the best it could be. Six years may seem like a long time for a book, but I had a LOT to learn, and each new rule I discovered often meant a major rewrite. And a couple of years ago I decided I should also start working on my own stories, so my time has been split between multiple manuscripts.
To be honest, working on my Hogwarts story often feels like a guilty pleasure. Rowling didn’t worry overmuch about telling vs showing, employed a distant narrator who knew things Harry sometimes didn’t, and seasoned her story with plenty of colorful dialogue tags. (All supposed no-nos in writing) And since I made the decision to match her style of writing in my fan fiction, I don’t obsess too much over these rules, which means the writing comes naturally.
But when I work on my own stories, the feeling is completely different. Rowling might be able to break the rules and be successful, but that doesn’t mean I can get away with it, so I’ve made it a point to follow the rules as best I can. So I cut back on my telling, shifted to a closer POV, resisted the urge to explain, and tried to follow every rule I've read.
And it’s like slogging through molasses.
I often spend more time worrying about the rules than I do on the story itself. Heck, it often feels as though someone is staring over my shoulder while I write, prepared to make rude noises whenever I break a rule. As you might expect, this puts a real damper on my creativity. And based on my CP’s comments, some of which I’ve mentioned here over the past two months, my chapters have been a disaster. I’m so afraid of telling, I leave out information the reader needs to have, often confusing them. My characters seem like robots and the words don’t flow. Arg!
The good news is that I’m slowly figuring this all out, and next week I’m going to tell you about a new strategy I’ve come up with to solve the problem.
At least I hope it does!