Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Do You Trust Your Story?

In doing research on alchemy for one of my manuscripts I was surprised by how much accuracy I had already put into my alchemist character (because, of course, waiting until I am finished before drafting is unheard of, involving, I don't know, logic or something). Some of this, like his involvement with the stars, herbs and explosives as well as turning metals into gold are logical enough. They are all different early branches of chemistry and physics, and probably filtered into my head from various sources I've read in the past and then forgotten about. But others, like his preoccupation with purifying the soul, I was surprised to discover were typical for alchemists. This is good because I won't have to make any major modifications to keep things accurate but it also proves that you can never go wrong in trusting your story. Sometimes you know things you didn't know you knew. You just have to Trust.

Trust. It's not quite the same thing as "believing in". That comes later. After you've finished and are sorting through piles of rejections every week.

Trust. That is when you follow your story even when it pulls you away from your original plan.

Trust is when a brilliant second opinion tells you to make a change that you just can't even though logically it would make sense (be careful with this one, I'm not trying to say not to be open to criticism. That's important too.)

Trusting your story is when you chase it through a draft at lightning speed or respect the fact that it wants to take things slow and enjoy the scenery.

Trust is knowing that your story knows what it is doing even if you don't.

Which actually means that you do know what you're doing and you just don't know it because your story is a part of you.

Do you trust your story?

(Don't forget to send me a piece for this months Literary Idol)


  1. Go with your instincts. I keep swearing that the next time I'm going to write an outline. Problems is, the actual book takes a different direction because it's suppose to. I eventually drop the outlive.

    Take care.

  2. This hit the nail on the head for me today. I'm totally right in the middle of trusting my stories. One of them is demanding more attention, the other is okay quietly simmering.

    The one that demands more attention is doing the same thing to me as your alchemist-- I keep looking things up after the fact to find out I had them right all along. That's a good feeling.

  3. what a great post. I did trust my story, more than I trusted myself! Sometimes I feel like it wrote itself and I had nothing to do with it. I did originally start with an outline, but during the rewriting process, it took on a life of its own.

  4. Well said. Trust is all of those things. It is letting go and listening to that little voice and following that muse ... yes, it is so important and can make the journey more meaningful.

    I try to trust my stories. When I do, they seem to flow better. Interesting thoughts here.