For those who don’t know, I’m writing my first fantasy novel and documenting my progress here on the blog. This is my seventh update in the series.
A NEW PERSPECTIVE
It has been quite some time since I’ve written a proper manuscript update!
The short and sweet of it is that I started to feel tangled in my monthly goals. These little updates were starting to drive how I approached my manuscript, and how quickly I felt I should move, the word count I should aim for, etc…
It made writing more of a “by the books” process, and less like a fun creative journey. So I took a break from the updates and tried to find that intuitive flow again. It took some time, but it was a helpful step in the right direction.
And even more helpful was allowing my sister to read the first two and a half chapters of my story…
MAN—sometimes it takes letting go of what you’ve created to realize all that’s not fitting your vision, which is exactly what happened as soon as she laid eyes on my project. Suddenly I was aware of the bits that didn’t feel right, the characters that didn’t support the plot, the fluffy details that were getting in the way. And honestly, the whole medieval vibe wasn’t working. I just want flat out fantasy. More Celtic mythology inspired, less knights and shining armor.
Most alarmingly, the tone of my manuscript didn’t settle well. I was writing in a style I appreciate reading and am familiar with writing, but it wasn’t the right tone for this story.
Sooo, I rewrote it all.
What took me ten months to create, I scratched and rewrote in three (grueling) days.
I guess that’s how it goes sometimes. Something could work well enough, but approach it from a different angle and suddenly things really get moving!
ALL ABOUT THE “RIGHT” VOICE
I changed the voice, scrapped the fluff, and focused on progressing the action in fewer chapters. Whereas I was initially going for traditional old English speech, now the dialogue sounds more modern. (More like how I’d chat with you.)
As a major Tolkien and R.R. Martin fan, I always assumed my writing style would resemble theirs. I was a strong essayist in school and figured I could translate that ability into writing fiction. Craft some really great sentences and weave in all the medieval research. And…I could…but….
It just wasn’t right. It wasn’t the right mood for the visions in my mind. It felt too chained to rules, too claustrophobic, too winded, too formulaic. It felt the same as tackling an essay assignment in school.
Part of it was definitely my ego. Since childhood, I’ve always dreamt of writing like my heroes. A woman author who wrote like Tolkien? A female-written story as grand as Martin’s? Hell yes! I wanted that to be me.
Almost all of my favorite adventure authors as a kid were men from a different time—Jacques, Lewis, Snicket, L’amour, Grey, Asimov, Cussler, etc. So when it came time to sit down and try my own hand at storytelling, I felt this weird, subconscious pressure to “measure up”. To them.
Again, this was all subconscious and something I only unpacked after hitting that wall a few chapters in. I was doing it, writing something I was proud of, but it didn’t feel like me. With every word I typed, it felt like I was trying to be someone else.
GOTTA LEARN SOMEHOW
I’m learning that just because you can write a certain way and follow a particular structure/voice/style, doesn’t mean it’s the best fit for your story.
It sounds obvious, and maybe should be—but for me, it was tricky to discover my own voice for such a large project.
I have a hunch that the greatest, most prolific writers out there are writing from their core. It’s genuine, it’s authentically them. They likely aren’t obsessing about making their story as epic as their writer heroes’. It just flows, their own way.
And to me, that’s become the key to finding my style for this project. I’ve gotta find that flow and stick with it. Sit down, rest my hands above the keyboard, and just release—let the words come the way they want to come.
I think I’ve finally got that down for my story. It used to take me five hours to craft a few pages, but now the words can’t leave my fingertips fast enough!
What a damn relief, ha! (Until the next challenge. 😁)
In my last update, I had about 6,000 words and hoped to reach 11,000 words. Today, I have 12,000 and know exactly what awaits in the following several chapters. (Doesn’t sound like a whole lot considering the time I’ve spent on this thing, but I’m excited nonetheless!) I hope to cross the 20,000 marker by Thanksgiving. I don’t write daily, but in little intense spurts, so hopefully I can make it happen. We’ll just have to see!
Thank you for reading along as I detangle these challenges. I appreciate your company on this journey!