What To Do When Stories Haunt You

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In the three years since I first published Edge of Shadows, I’ve pretty much finished every story that I’ve started with the exception of one: Step To My Bones. I have no idea why this story has been the monkey on my back for as long as it has (2 years and counting). Perhaps it’s because of what inspired the story, or the subject material, or the fact that I just knew this little story was something special, and I didn’t feel ready to tell it yet.

Last summer, I started on this story again and made decent progress before I realized that it was derailing into a different kind of story than what I wanted. It had a strong paranormal element, but suddenly there was a romance subplot that was unexpected and, quite frankly, very wrong for the story. This story has always been about the heroine coming face to face with the man who changed the course of her life when she was a young teen and battling her inner demons. It was supposed to be dark, slightly twisted, and very uncomfortable for not just her but the reader as well. To throw in a love interest threw off it’s mojo.

So I quit the story. Again. Put it away and went on to other pursuits. But as I entered 2015, I said to myself “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH”. I needed to sit down and write the damn story already. Last weekend, I gleefully typed the last words of the final chapter, and I know it is the story that it was always meant to be.

So what changed?

I think I’ve undergone yet another maturation phase in my writing journey. After hearing some great anecdotes from other authors in early December where they talked about how they outlined their plots and fleshed out their characters well before the first sentence was written,  I innately felt the pull of that kind of discipline. For the first time, I started drafting lengthy outlines that carefully constructed the scenes of the story so that as I sat down to write, I didn’t have to wonder where the story was going. Instead of feeling constricted, I felt liberated. I willingly let go of my pantser ways, and I haven’t looked back since.

It was forcing myself to write down the entire plot from beginning to end that allowed me to finally write Step to My Bones the way that I always envisioned it. I will admit, the end turned itself on its end when I got there, but that was a small modification in my mind given that I had set up everything else the way that I had. And the best part was that it worked! Finally, the words are committed to the page, and in less than a week when it goes on sale, I will have officially removed this monkey from my back.

With this story, I also am going back to my horror roots. There was something utterly refreshing about it. There is a strong psychological element to this tale, and it’s dark, gritty, and uncomfortable. I love it. 🙂

On Jan. 31st, I’ll be popping the bubbly and enjoying the end of this journey. Hopefully, fans will feel like the story was worth the wait.

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