I read something recently that was forwarded to me via a ‘Tweet.’ The link was to ‘Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling.’ Rule #8 hit me like a blaster between the eyes.
#8: Finish your story, let go even if it's not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time.
Recently I posted my first novel “The Helavite War” on Kindle for you to read. This volume was originally written in 1990. I have never had a child, but I imagine I was as proud of this volume as a first-time mother. I labored over it. I endeavored to proof it and fine tune it. In 1991 I wrote the second volume of the Star Traveler Series, “The Heirs of Henu.” By the time I was halfway through that book, I knew I was going to write a trilogy. I finished the third volume “Old Friends/New Enemies” in 1992.
But I kept going back to the first volume - endlessly tweaking it.
I felt I found my writer’s voice by the third volume. I wanted to improve the first book. I did an extensive rewrite. I changed long passages of prose to dialogue because by now my characters had found their voices.
A reader told me if I thought I found my voice in volume three then I learned to sing in volume four. I was encouraged. I wanted to take the characters I had grown to love further. So between 1990 and 1995 I wrote a volume a year resulting in six books of the Star Traveler Series.
And then I deserted it. My mind was brimming with more ideas for the series. More volumes were planned (outlined in a drawer), but I still believed I could rewrite the first novel and make it better, stronger, cleaner.
So the series sat untouched for seventeen years on my shelf. The soft copy moved from computer to computer through an endless number of software upgrades. Meanwhile, I wrote five middle-school fantasies. I wrote a bi-weekly, non-fiction column for four years for the local newspaper. I created and wrote the blog you are currently reading.
February 2012, I started the seventh volume of the Star Traveler Series and after 68 pages I was back at the first volume tweaking again. I was obsessing even after a layoff of over seventeen years. I needed to move on or I would never get another volume of the series completed.
So, I threw up my hands. I decided I was finished fiddling with volume one. I let go. It’s not perfect, but I hope you will find the characters compelling enough to come back and visit them again as I post the succeeding five volumes of the series to Kindle.
I know you will enjoy reading the First Draft of the Seventh Volume of the Star Traveler Series, “The Beast Within” as I post it here over the next few months.
I let go and moved on. The completion of Volume Seven is the result. Hopefully, I did better this time. –Theresa Snyder-
Join me here tomorrow for the next episode of "The Beast Within."