When Your Story Takes a Different Direction

“The characters won’t do what I want.” ~ Charles Dickens, The Man Who Invented Christmas

“Wherever my story takes me, however dark and difficult the theme, there is always some hope and redemption, not because readers like happy endings, but because I am an optimist at heart. I know the sun will rise in the morning that there is a light at the end of every tunnel.” ~ Michael Morpurgo

“Every story I create, creates me. I write to create myself.” ~ Octavia E. Butler

“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” ~ Philip Pullman

I used to think that writing was a matter of sitting down and letting the story pour forth in it’s completely finished form. Boy was I wrong!

When I began writing the book that became The Space Between Time, the story was going to be about the loving relationship between a daughter and her father in the years leading up to the Civil War. My initial inspirations were my relationship with own father and my pioneering ancestors. It was going to be a fictional chronicle of the wisdom my father had shared with me over the years.

I began writing the book after one particular visit when I knew that my father’s health had taken a definite downturn. That was in 1998 or ’99. But I had to stop writing because I began teaching full-time. When I picked up the book again in 2010, the story wanted to go in a different direction. Time had changed crucial elements about my story since my father had been dead for six years. Morgan now had to deal with the death of her father, and since her mother was also dead, she had an opportunity to build an new life. The link between Morgan and her father was not broken, but the talks I had envisioned had to be altered. Now she remembered things he taught her, and occasionally he came to her in spirit form when she needed him.

As I worked on my book, there came a point when I had written all I knew how to write about Morgan’s life. Something was nagging to be included in the story, but what it was was not quite clear to me. Then as I’ve written in previous posts, the inspiration came from another author. Originally I had thought that Morgan would be the main character and her life would somehow be aided, or intertwined with someone in our present time, but I couldn’t see or hear the story of the character in the present. It was as if I knew the character was there, but she was behind a veil, or off having ice cream, or hanging out with friends. Whatever she was up to, she wasn’t available to tell me her story.

However, when the fellow author suggested I intertwine the present timeline with the past, I knew he was right. That’s when Jenna began to reveal herself to me. Her life had been shattered too just like Morgan’s, only for her it happened all in one day. Her fiancé broke off their engagement, her mother died in a car accident and she lost her job. She needed to rebuild her life. As I listened to Jenna, I realized I was writing about the time when I lost a most beloved teaching position. Because of our connection, Jenna needed to be the main character. Once she told me that she would find the journals of her three-times great-grandmother linking their experiences, I was filled with all kinds of new story possibilities for both of my heroines.

Later, of course, another writer friend helped me by suggesting I spread out Jenna’s self-awakening more slowly. This forced me to remember how I had managed to rebuild my life. As I dredged up old memories, I used them to enhance the link between Jenna and Morgan as they helped each other through all kinds of challenges.

I’ve had friends and family, who have read the book, ask me how I came up with all the details of my story. What I tell them is that I did it a little at a time. For me, writing is a little bit like a scavenger hunt. (Do they have those any more?) I get a snippet of story and work on it until it feels like it’s done, at least for the present. Then another snippet comes to me usually just as I’m waking up in the morning, and I begin working on that new section, and on it goes until I have a finished draft.

When I finished the rough draft of The Space Between Time, I thought I was finished with Jenna and Morgan’s story. However, it wasn’t long before a new segment of their story nagged at the back of my mind and the sequel, Time’s Echo was born.

To tell you the truth, where the ideas for these books came from is a bit of a mystery. I mean, for a long time I wanted to be a writer, but I didn’t know how to put my ideas into a coherent form. Nevertheless, once I got the concept for The Space Between Time, it simmered on the back burner of my mind, even when I was extremely busy teaching. Finally the day came when the stew was ready to be served and I started writing. Now that it’s finished, I’m in a little bit of awe of how my writing process has evolved and that the ideas in this book have led to the next book. And not only that, I have ideas for books of different kinds.

I have to say I’m hooked on this wonderful creative process. Now I write not only to make sense out of my own life, but to see where my imagination will take me. So, the moral of this post is that I have to keep writing.

There are many stories to be told by me, and other people, which means there are lots of different stories to be enjoyed. So, help your favorite storytellers by spreading the word about their work. Believe me, the creators will be grateful you did because, the main challenge for an author is to get their story noticed.

Thanks for reading. I appreciate your likes and comments.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, and print-on-demand at Amazon and other fine book sellers. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

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