I had started writing this novel some time ago, I knew major elements, where I wanted to go with it, how it would end. I got to a point where 3/4 of the novel was finished and then, I just stopped, I couldn't make it another page. I actually made numerous posts on this sub and never got advice that would manage to nudge me in the right direction. Two years in and I gave up, I stopped making posts for advice, I stopped hoping that it would come to me in a dream or in the shower. I actually told myself that I was done done, I was hanging up the towel, I was no longer a writer and who cares, I have my photography as a form of expression. When friends of mine who wrote would say, "Get any writing done lately?" I'd say, "No, I'm done with that, I'm not writing anymore."

When I started writing my novel I invented these beautiful characters that just wrote themselves. If some random person were to ask me, what would this character do if someone did X, I could immediately shoot back with Y, like I just knew the character. And, the characters really did just write themselves, things came out of characters just so naturally and in ways I never intended. I could say to myself, well, we need at some point for this character to develop a certain way, and then I'd start out writing this scene without that in mind and all of a sudden by the time it was finished, something would arise that would perfectly show the character developing.

A great example was when I had this one character who idolizes a friend of his, yet no matter how hard he tries to impress this friend, he ultimately just makes a fool of himself. Then, this interesting thing sort of emerged where I put that character in a room with his friend and that friends enemy and now he's this complete jerk, he could just mock and belittle that enemy in the presence of his friend and it would completely benefit him to do so. And, when I set out to write that scene, it wasn't planned, it wasn't even what I'd set out to write, just the act of having put these people in the same room and knowing these characters so intimately allowed this dynamic to emerge.

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What caused things to fall apart for me was as I was reaching the last 1/4 of the story and I suddenly am thinking, I've got all these things that need to happen. This character needs to wind up here, that character needs to wind up there, certain elements of the plot have to coincide. Like, here we go, we're heading towards that pinnacle, everything needs to start coming together.

I panicked! These things need to happen and suddenly I'm thinking, christ, this character has to be at the train station by page 160, and so and so needs to discover this by page 163. It just broke down, it felt like crippling writers block and I began perceiving all these fatal flaws and eventually I just gave up.

However, then after all this time in between, I mean, three years and actually deciding that I'd just no longer write, I finally realized where the problem was. The problem was me. It wasn't my characters or my story, I'd created the problem. These characters throughout my writing this had a life of their own, they were fully realized characters, if I decided to throw mud at them, they'd react to it as they themselves would. Then, I came in and started trying to control them. You need to be at that train station? How do you get there? Fuck, they never had any problem getting there on their own.

Now, I know, I know. They aren't real, I'm writing them, and even if right then and there on the page these fantastic connections happen where it feels like, damn, I didn't see that coming, I am still the writer, I still conjure up these characters. But, it really does feel like they live in me, not to be cliche, but they're like a real close friend where you can say, "Oh, no, she hates olives," when someone is cooking for them.

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So, for the first time in 3 years, I went back to it and just jumped back into these lives and without trying to control them, they leapt off the page again and their direction is dictated by how they would react to their environment and the other characters. Not by how I need them to fit into this puzzle. They'll get there not by force, but almost by determinism. The things set in motion in the past will continue to move them naturally to my end and I don't need to worry about it.

I wanted to post this, because frankly, if you might be struggling in a similar fashion, wondering where that spark went, maybe this will help. I know that I made numerous posts here in the past and couldn't get this answer, so I'm hoping that the answer I found that saved my novel can in turn help others.

Source: reddit post


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