by Lucy Marsden
I don't know exactly how it happens, but the cycle goes something like this:
1) I get an idea for an approach to a story that I spend a lot of time developing, and that I become very invested in. Once this happens, I no longer see the approach as one among many possible choices for the given story dynamic; it just is.
2) I attempt to implement the approach, but either a) the approach is inherently broken, or b) I personally don't have the chops to pull it off. In any case, the end result is that I completely gum up the action or character development, bogging the entire story down.
3) I don't question the chosen approach, because it has become invisible to me. Instead, I just continue to do whatever I've been doing harder, becoming increasingly frustrated and demoralized.
4) I lather, rinse, repeat.
5) Eventually, by the grace of the gods (or some kind but pointed remarks from my critique partner, who is fatigued by all the wailing and gnashing of teeth), I realize—to take an instance at random—"Wow, if I stop insisting that this book is the first in a series about four roommates, all of whom will use this first scene as the jumping off point for their own stories, and I allow the book to about a particular heroine whose story crosses paths with the others in the series in a fun, but non-strangling fashion, this could totally work!"
6) I call my writing buddies to discuss, once again, the warning signs of early-onset dementia, but decide that, given my baseline, it's going to be a tough call.
Am I alone in this bone-headedness? Please drop in with tales of how you, too, practically beat your story to death by insisting on a certain approach to it. (If you've never had this experience before, kindly have the common courtesy to make something up. Thank you.)
Lucy Marsden is a romance writer living in New England. When she’s not backstage at a magic show or crashing a physics picnic, she can be found knee-deep in the occult collection of some old library, or arguing hotly about Story.