Trust me, I ran into many fictional walls (and maybe some real ones). Each one of my manuscripts have had their own issues and difficulties, but I managed to find ways around them, ways to break down the wall, and ways to make the story that I dreamed I could.
When I decided to write my first manuscript Memoirs of a Reaper, I struggled to make the plot and paranormal aspects of it to feel genuine. I had to bridge the gap between life and death in a way that was believable. It had to be in a way which someone could look into the darkness and wonder how many Lost Souls were watching and waiting to devour a human's energy or pass a maternity ward and imagine how many Givers were providing new souls to those entering our world. I wanted people to also feel comfort knowing that the passage to the afterlife could be as comforting as they believed it to be. So where did I even begin you may be wondering? Well, at the root of all questions, of course, the meaning of life.
Yes, I went there. The meaning of life! Writing about this can sometimes be taboo. What was our purpose here? Who created us? Did I believe there was a God or anything bigger than us? Not only did I have to dig deep within myself, but I also had to do a lot of research on what others imagined. And believe me, the options and ideas were endless. I grew up with the Christian belief that there was a God, a Heaven and a Hell, but was it something I truly still believed? The answer that I discovered was in fact, no. I honestly had no idea what I thought was out there, so how could I possibly write a believable version of the afterlife that people could accept (*deep sigh*).
It meant I needed to create my own. So I did.
Sometimes starting from the foundation of creation is the only place to begin. So I put together the ideas that I liked from my research and created my own personal version of Heaven, Hell, and who ruled them. From there, it started a ripple effect of a type of chain of command. There should be someone working under these rulers I created. Right? Just as a Kingdom has its hierarchy, my afterlife also had positions and rules they needed to follow and eventually, after many many edits and rewrites, I completed what I saw as an appropriate afterlife to where we all end up when we pass and it seemed even some explanation of death itself! (whoa, have I blown your mind yet?)
Another issue that I wrestled with, especially in my second manuscript Escape From the Circus, that focused more on supernatural aspects. was trying to stay away from any of them having magical abilities (I save that for my retellings!). My entire novel could be believable and feel realistic until I throw in a quick expelliarmus which shatters the world I worked so hard to create. I had to find the line between reality and irregularities and ensure I stayed on the correct side. As much as I wanted my main characters to cast a spell on someone and get their way, it couldn’t be an option.
So how does one keep the magical realm at bay? I know it’s hard! Trust me, I fought this battle many times. I had to ask myself after every so often when I wondered if I had crossed the line, “is this something I’d see in Harry Potter?” I mean, I seriously had to consider WWRD (what would Rowling do) and try to do the opposite because I didn’t want my manuscripts to be magical in that sense. I wanted them to be fantastically magical in their own unique way.
The research and organization it takes to write a paranormal or a supernatural YA novel that feels like a real life retelling can be the ultimate struggle, especially when you’re just a muggle. Not that writing other genres is any easier, (they all have their rough patches) but trying to find the right balance takes time, constant rewrites, multiple think tanks, and asking yourself the question of “could this really happen?” before putting it into your final script.
Let me say that again. Friends are fantastic!!!
Get some, collect them, put out an ad, whatever it takes. Find some support (your dogs don’t count, I don’t care how cute they are). So, find your writing tribe and lean on them when the uphill battle feels a little too overwhelming. We are all human. We are all in this together. We all struggle. And we all struggle because unless you’ve been blessed with perfection in writing talent (trust me, you haven’t) then you need help.
The whole point is to just push through and never give up. To always tell yourself that nothing is impossible and that it’s okay to hit a wall (hopefully only a metaphorical one). As writers we have to realize that those walls don’t just build themselves. We have to remember that we are the ones that create those walls and we can destroy them with motivation and force which begins with a single word. You just need to find the right word and the cracks will begin to take hold and eventually crumble the blockage to open the path to your final work of art. Always.
Much love and happy writing,
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