Stay Honest with Your Story

    Editing was (and still is) slowly killing me, bit by bit. For months I've been staring at a manuscript over 100,000 words long, wondering what it was that made it feel not quite right. Wondering if it's because I've yet to nail the characters' individual voices yet, or maybe because of my lack of polished prose.

  I'm talking about Draped in Deception, a YA Fantasy that has been in my life for almost two years. It's changed so much since the very moment I typed the first page--you probably couldn't even tell it's the same story anymore.



  I've been with this story through ups and downs, bursts of inspiration, and teeth grinding frustration. The characters have haunted me everywhere; prodded me with words that have to be told.

  I was happy with it, for awhile. But after some feedback on the second draft and a whole lot of musing, I realized something in the ending was just...off.

  Not just the ending; the entire last third.

  It came to me yesterday why this offness was creeping into the manuscript. It's simple: I wasn't being honest with my story, or my characters.

  The ending was what I wanted, not what it would be realistically. The characters were putting what they most valued aside to pursue this one foolish moment, for no other reason than because I desperately wanted to write the scene.

  That's not fair.


Collage of Draped in Deception
  I like to think of myself and other writers as scribes sometimes. We record someone else's story, someone who lives in a far off world and has experienced raw troubles. They've either conquered these troubles, or been crushed by them. Either way, they want to share their story.

   Their story.

   This isn't to say that you shouldn't care about your writing and excuse it with, "it's not mine." If you want to write the best story it can be, be honest. Listen to what the characters would really do or say. Don't throw in scenes because it pleases your writer self to show off your newly acquired fancy description skills.

   When I started to think about how my story would really play out, and was honest with it, it revealed depths I'd never have seen otherwise.


Do you struggle with editing? Are you always honest with your story or do you sometimes forget to be? Wherever you are on your writing journey, good luck! <3

Comments

  1. Oooh... I've never really thought about being honest with my story. But you're right. I can't just write scenes I want to happen but shouldn't because that's not realistic to the plot or characters.
    (I mean, I guess you could always write it and then cut it and shove it into an obscure folder. Author written fanfiction. XD)

    I have been struggling with editing, but it helped so much to get a critique on the beginning and look at my story from there. Helped me to find out what was wrong.

    Best of luck to your story... I'm glad you were able to find the thing that was making you feel off about it!
    Jeneca @Jeniqua Writes

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    1. "Author written fanfiction": I think I'm very guilty of this. XD Editing is super hard; I'm glad I'm not the only one struggling with it. :) You're right. Critiques are super useful. I'm glad you figured out what was wrong with your story too. Best of luck with your own writing, and thanks so much for commenting, Jeneca! <3

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  2. Ohh I have trouble with this a lot! I'm actually fighting with my plotting right now because I want one thing for my characters but DEEP DOWN INSIDE I know it's not the right direction.😭😂 Ahem. But yes, being honest with what your characters (and the book!!) needs is hugely important. And editing is HARD. Always hard! I basically write small/short books so I don't have to edit as much hahaha. Ahem.

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    1. Ah I've had the same problem so many times. You could maybe write the scene to satisfy yourself, and then write what you think is the more honest one for the true ending? It's a difficult battle; good luck! Editing is SO hard. That's a good plan though haha. XD Thanks so much for commenting Cait! :D

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    1. I'm glad I'm not the only one! Thank you for dropping by Ella! XD

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  4. All I ever seem to do is plan and never write so I'm not exactly far along in my writing journey lol, but I've always felt like the most important thing, like whenever I see people asking questions about things or whenever I think of my own stories, is to stay true to the story. You may *want* this to happen, or *that* may be what other people like to read about, but if it isn't true to the story, it'll show. Glad you were able to figure out what was off, and good luck finishing your editing :-)

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    1. Thank you Kristen! :) Definitely, we should always stay true to the story! I as a reader always get annoyed when characters do something completely out of character, as it doesn't sit well with me and makes me think the author didn't understand or respect the story enough. Good luck with your own writing (planning is super important too) and thanks for commenting! :D

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  5. Awesome post! :)
    I've never yet finished a manuscript, so have never had this problem at the editing stage, but I've definitely experienced something like it. I have planned out novels before with the plot as I would like it to go, but once I start writing and the characters take life, it just seems forced and not like what the characters would actually do when I try and stick to my plan. I really love what you say here about staying true to your story and your characters, and I'll definitely be trying to keep to that in my writing.
    Good luck with the editing! :)

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    1. Thanks Laura! :D I totally get what you mean; whenever I plot an ending I seem to end up writing the complete opposite of it. But the good thing about that is it means by that point we have a better understanding of our characters and story. :D Good luck with your own writing (you can do it!) and thank you so much for commenting! <3

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  6. How truthful. This is a point that is stressed on every 'tips' post. Without staying honest the story feels dull and the writing lifeless. Glad you emphasised

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    1. It's definitely a point everyone should be aware of. :) You're right; without honesty our stories lack realism and feel off. Thanks for dropping by Resh! :)

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