As I write this, I’m staring at a story that is over two-thirds written. I love my characters. I love how they interact and how their relationship is moving along. There is romance, angst, joy, serious tragedy and humor. Sounds great, right?
Except it’s not.
I wrote out that black moment and this nagging voice in the back of my head kept telling me it wasn’t right. It was too weak, wishy-washy and easy. Things were happening to them and around them, but not inside them. They weren’t fighting for their happily ever after. The story I thought was nearly done ended up as barely being started.
I’m not entirely sure how it happened. I spent a good month plotting this book. I knew what was going to happen, how it drove the characters. It all made sense and felt right… at least until I put it on paper. Once I had the words in front of me I realized just how little I really had.
The good news is, I know where I went wrong. My critical error was mistaking personality for character. My characters are fun people, but they don’t have any real direction… no goal, no motivation. They just drift along through the story like a couple of happy-go-lucky hound dogs.
The bad news is, as I’m sitting and staring at the manuscript as it is, I have no idea how to fix it. How do I retrofit the core of someone’s being into a story that’s already on paper?
It’s not a hopeless situation. I usually have the story crumble at some point, and I can usually pull a rabbit out of the hat and fix it. I’m going to need a very big bunny this time, but I’m sure there’s one in there somewhere.
As a writer, this is where the rubber meets the road. When things go awry, it’s easy to throw in the towel and give up on a story, but sticking with it and finding that new layer to the writing is what makes the difference between a book and a hobby. Be dedicated to the book. Don’t give up when things start to fall apart. There is a solution in there somewhere. You just have to find it. And finding it is what makes you a better writer.