Remembering To Love Your Own Story

I’ve embarked on another round of revisions on my novel and you know what makes me nervous? Keeps the word doc closed? Lends to procrastination? Makes me write blog posts instead of clicking track changes?

Sometimes I forget I like — no, love — my book! I forget my affection for the characters, the setting, the twists and turns, the thimble full of romance, the private jokes in plain sight — and the ending.

It’s not always easy to admit you love something about yourself, a creation of your own making.  But it’s the critical part of the writing process that we can let slip — but shouldn’t.

You must love the ones you’re with.

I think sometimes in writing women’s fiction we can get very caught up in what it’s all about. The theme, the lesson, (drumroll please…) the arcs — both character and plot.  And I have found that in getting caught up we can get bogged down. Creating bigness is critical — but details are what drive great women’s fiction.  The details are what make readers love what they read — writers what they write.

I don’t usually read a book and think or say, “Gee whiz, that universal theme of self-acceptance hooked me on page one” or “Dagnabbit, the arc of that protagonist really had me intrigued.”

Nope, I don’t.  What I think might mean that, but it’s the details that embrace me and add up to a great reading and writing experience.

So, in order to fall back in love with my old friends in my novel, I am focusing on a few little things without even attaching their meaning. Just remembering these, and smiling, meant I was itching to wake up Monday morning, brew a pot of Folgers, pull back my bangs into a hair clip and away from my eyes and get started.  I knew the rest would just happen and it did.

These are the details I dug up for myself about Evie, my main character. These things mean something within the context of the novel, but even without their literary baggage, these tidbits are enough to make me smile — and remember.

Evie bakes classic cookies with a twist, has a master’s degree in United States history and can tell how tall a man is when he walks through a doorway. 

😀 See? I’m smiling.  These are details that remind me of more things which in turn remind me of more which makes me very excited to get to work on my revisions. So I do, and I find even more. Totally If You Give A Mouse A Cookie for the writer set.

I sometimes forget what I had for breakfast (French toast with strawberries on Sunday, a peanut butter sandwich on Monday, thankyouverymuch) — but I don’t ever want to forget any details — or my love — for my story.

Because if I don’t love it, chances are no one else will either.

And I need to remember that too.

Would you share a few things you love about your story or characters? Keep it simple. Nothing deep. No explanations. Just details that will make you — and all of us — smile. 🙂

24 thoughts on “Remembering To Love Your Own Story

  1. Pingback: StorieStorm » Blog Archive » Researching Character Emotions

  2. A great reminder, and a clever way to regain momentum, by rekindling your love for your characters and/or story!

    Rebecca, the main female character in my novel ME AGAIN, has suffered a stroke, which among other things has caused her to lose most of her “edit” function when speaking to other people. As a result, she tends to say exactly what she’s thinking, whether it’s socially appropriate or not.

    While that leads to some awkward moments for her, to me it’s one of her most endearing qualities. Think about it: this is a woman with whom you always know where you stand. How many people can you say that about?

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    • Geez, not many!

      I bet it was fun to write a character who has no filter. It’s certainly always interesting to be in the company of someone like that — whether by age or stroke or simply, an a$$hat. 😉

      Actually – last night at a Seder an 86 year old woman said to me, “So, I hear you write stories.” I said, “Yes, I do.” She replied, “Maybe someday one will get noticed.” I simply answered,”I hope so!”

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  3. Love it, Amy. And so important for us to love our characters, because – you’re right – if we don’t, our readers won’t. Some things in my current WIP that I love: Hope is more comfortable in braids and a ten-gallon hat than in heels. She doesn’t mind her size 10s or that she towers over other women – that she’s not petite. She isn’t afraid to use the f word. Putting that gusto to use, she is ready and willing to confront a past that haunts her and an equally haunting future.

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    • Melissa, I have a character who uses the F-word too, and when I wrote it into dialogue of another character my agent was quick to point out that she wouldn’t say that. He was right! (I can get carried away with the cursing sometimes, I find it cathartic myself, having never cursed until I got divorced!)

      I love thinking of your character with gusto — in stature and in her life. It’s a great word that says a lot!

      🙂
      Amy

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  4. So glad I found your blog. Great post.
    I love how my protagonist can make a walk to school into an adventure. How klutzy she is and how she’s the only one in her family to get stuck with bad hair. I actually love the whole family.

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  5. Beautifully stated- my first manuscript didn’t make it on the submission round of my agent [though I still hold on to hope] and I think that was the issue- focusing on the “theme” over the details. I’m revising it now as we speak. Great advice!

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  6. Here from Writer Unboxed (thank you Amy!). . . I like how Virginia Kate sees the world . . .just a bit off, just a bit naively. I just like her and would love to have her for a friend!

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  7. Great post. My motivation to continue with my first book was a fear of stranding the characters. It’s as if they really existed and I discovered them in some parallel universe (or something like the phantom zone) and it was my job to pull them into real life, lest they be stuck there forever.

    I always liked their subtlety, simplicity, and contradictions.

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  8. What a great post! It has definitely uplifted me to continue on with my WIP. This is such an important element of writing that I think we all forget every once in a while, because we’re taught so much to focus on the technical aspects to make sure we’ve included all key elements to what makes a story, a story. But it’s the love of our story that gives it a memorable substance.

    My favourite trait of my main character is that she is a highly sensitive person, in a world where she doesn’t know others who are highly sensitive. I love the tug of war struggle she goes through to fit in society while still being her own person.

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  9. Ugh I am so sorry I read this after my preschooler got home and now I can’t discover my protag’s great traits and dive headlong into the writing just for the sheer joy of spending time with the characters!!

    There’s always tomorrow… right?

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