I have spent many nights glaring at a computer screen typing and deleting the same paragraph, willing my characters to move, trying to force a story to happen. Every writer has. When it happens, sometimes you might be lucky and some read-overs can compel your hands, or a google search can make the story lurch forward a few more paragraphs, but frequently the best thing to do it just move onto a different project for a bit. Or go watch a Buffy re-run (fun fact, Buffy re-runs can trigger brainstorming).
The absolute worst is when a story has been pouring out smoothly since conception, you have a solid ending in mind (or a great outline if you’re the organized type) and you come to a screeching halt. Then, sometimes the only way to get through it is to fight through, hacking out every single line until you can get it going again. Nearly every story reaches this point, where the muse takes off and its just you, trying to force your way through to a point where you know the inspiration will pick up again.
Except, every once in a while, you find the golden goose of stories. The one you have apparently had within you, from conception to completion, your whole life. You find the story that writes itself.
On my hard drive there are 344 word docs with stories in various stages of completion. Seven of them are completed. Five of them I fought like hell to finish. Two stories, two beautiful stories wrote themselves. One is my most recently completed first draft, that is files under “The Silent Apocalypse” and the other is the one I will be publishing to kindle some time this year (fall, we’re hoping for fall) “The Fate of a Princess”.
They are radically different stories. “The Fate of a Princess” is a lighter, YA fairy tale, sword and sorcery type about an entitled brat of a princess who finds herself cast into the role of a potential hero and savior. “The Silent Apocalypse” is an adult horror story about a mysterious plague and the three people who carry different pieces to it’s source and demise. They have very little in common except that they wrote themselves.
And I really liked them when I read the first draft back to myself.
Can I say I like my own writing sometimes? I think when the story writes itself I can. Because when you read it over you find how perfectly the pieces of story fits together, without your planning or prior knowledge. You notice how the little off hand clues and details you sprinkled into the beginning later play out to be something perfectly significant that you never excepted. It’s almost like reading someone else’s work. Your story surprises you. You read it and think, “Oh man, I don’t think I’m this brilliant.” And then you lean back and start to wonder if there really is a muse.
A story that writes itself doesn’t mean you never have to research. It doesn’t mean you don’t have to plan. It doesn’t mean you won’t have to edit and re-write (a lot). It just means it all comes together so fluidly and so tightly and you find any missing pieces with ease. Plot problems are easily resolved and the story never stops moving as long as you are willing to sit down and type it.
If you haven’t yet written this book, (or had it written for you?) don’t lose hope. It is there. It is waiting and when it finally pours out of you onto the screen, you will revel in what a joy it can be to be a writer.