Sometimes writers find themselves unable to move forward with their story because it doesn’t match their vision of what the tale should be. For example, the opening you’ve penned doesn’t perfectly match the outline, making useless the latter’s bullet points of what the rising action should look like. Or maybe a beta reader recommended taking a story in a different direction, but that idea just isn’t working out.
There’s no doubt about it – success in writing (and just about anything else) largely depends on having a plan, even if it’s just a loose set of thoughts in one’s head. The most successful writers, though, recognize that their plans always are open to change. Adaptability and flexibility are key to writing a great story.
If you can’t stick to the original outline, maybe it wasn’t a very good one to begin with. Outlines – like manuscripts – can be done in drafts, too. And if a beta reader’s advice doesn’t inspire your creativity, maybe the suggestions weren’t that solid. After all, each of us has our own writing style and would pen entirely different stories if given the same writing prompt.
Changing your course to keep the story going doesn’t violate any immutable law. After all, maybe the story your inner muse wants to tell – that it must tell – never needs to match any conceived plan of the story you rationalized ought to be written.
Sure, parting ways with your outline or beta reader’s suggestions might seem messy. Just remember that you’re only writing a first draft. You always can pick up those messes later on the second and third drafts. Just get down an inspired first draft so you can move on!
My name is Rob Bignell. I’m an affordable, professional editor who runs Inventing Reality Editing Service, which meets the manuscript needs of writers both new and published. I also offer a variety of self-publishing services. During the past decade, I’ve helped more than 300 novelists and nonfiction authors obtain their publishing dreams at reasonable prices. I’m also the author of the 7 Minutes a Day… writing guidebooks, four nonfiction hiking guidebook series, and the literary novel Windmill. Several of my short stories in the literary and science fiction genres also have been published.