Book Two BluesMarch 30, 2015
This weekend as I went for a walk in the spring sun and thawing air I finally figured out some serious issues that had been facing one of my protagonists. She’s a difficult one to deal with, as she keeps changing her mind as to what she wants, but I think I finally got her pinned down. This, however, did cause me to go into a mild state of crisis because I realized that the ending, in a lot of ways, is very similar to the ending of Untold.
What do I do?
My first reaction was: sleep, and worry about it later. In general, I find this a very useful tactic. I spent a couple of fitful nights and mildly anxious days ignoring the problem, but today I woke up and it hit me full force. Am I stuck?
What breaks my heart about the idea that this ending might be too similar to the ending in Untold is that both were achieved in their own rights. I carefully examined the characters, their unique traits and journeys, and the ways that I could best use the stories to help them get to where they need to be. I didn’t consciously use a formula while plotting, I only thought about the paths I wanted my characters to take. And it wasn’t easy.
I’m already wondering if I should even bring this to my readers’ attention. The characters and stories are entirely different from one another, and I wonder if anyone would see the similarities but me. But I know you guys are a thoughtful bunch, and I want to let you into my creative process as entirely as I can.
This is hard.
Writing a book is hard. We never think so. We all get book ideas and think, “I can totally write this! I just need the time!” And it’s true. But it’s not that easy. You need to make the time, but more importantly, you need to make the book. And no matter how good your idea is, or how much you think about it beforehand, you’re going to run into parts where you feel like throwing in the towel. After all, is the story really that important?
Yes. Yes, it is.
It would be impossible to write stories that are completely, absolutely, 100% different from each other. It would be hard to write two endings that have nothing in common, and this is because that’s how life works. We all go through the same things, and we all go through them differently. It’s certainly a challenge to look at upcoming works in light of my old one, and one that I didn’t have to face with Untold. My slate was clean, and I could end the story however I see fit. But from now on, every time I publish a book I think I’m going to be a little bit scared that it’s too similar to something else I’ve written. But you know what? I don’t have to be.
I’m going to keep writing authentic endings. I’m going to keep sending my characters through the challenges and triumphs that they need to go through, and they’re going to end their stories relatively on their own terms. I can listen and craft, but really how they take their endings are up to them. So I’m going to shove my worries under the bed, and keep working on this crazy second novel of mine. And I hope you all come through this with me.