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  1. Victoria Haviland
    February 27, 2024 @ 10:24 am

    so interesting about your novel and how you struggled for SO LONG! what made you think to keep going when it wasnt working and all that work… going nowhere.. what on earth made you keep going with something that wasnt giving you the feels…? was it simply a case of not wanting to give up? but isnt it natural to realise something doesnt work.. and why would you give yourself such a hard time over that? i mean how good really was the premise? the robot idea.. realising they are robots.. i mean ok.. yeah.. but its not that THAT good of a hook??? not meaning to be rude.. . but why not find a more grippy sort of premise.. should a premise be that simple? its where i am stuck.. i have i think.. a good idea…. but it comes to a cliff edge… and there is no more ground to make.. seemingly…. and i have sort of become blind to it’s future… really strange… it’s like i need some sort of coaxing… i dont need someone to give me the development (but it wouldnt hurt!!! i literally need someone to lend themselves to it… i know they cant write it for me.. but the start seems so stronng that it would be a shame to drop it…. what doyou think? love your blog…


    • Andrea Elisabeth
      February 27, 2024 @ 2:50 pm

      Hi Victoria,

      Thanks so much for your comment! I really appreciate your thoughts. Let me tackle your points one at a time.

      First, you are absolutely right, at some point you do have to realize that an idea isn’t working and put that story down. Believe it or not, after writing this post in 2018, I kept at that story for another two years. As I mention in the post, I did start to really feel a connection to my characters and to the premise and so that’s what kept me going for another couple of years. I had the characters, I had a premise, I had a very general outline, but, ultimately, I couldn’t find the missing piece, which was the plot (very important, of course!) I continued to struggle with what the actual plot should be, since by that point I had written several different drafts, all with the same premise, but with different overall plots. My main problem, which I see now, was that I just didn’t know how to write a novel, as in how to structure a novel, what are the different story beats that need to happen.

      But back to the story of this story haha. In early 2020, right before the pandemic, I had finished a draft and sent it to a freelance editor for a manuscript critique, asking if she thought my novel was ready to send to agents and publishers. She did a very thorough job and sent me a 20-page critique, with the ultimate message that no, this manuscript was not ready at all. After that, I struggled to implement her edits and suggestions, but, ultimately, put that novel down about mid-2020. It had been seven years at that point, and I was so in the weeds, so overwhelmed, that I just needed a break.

      And you’re absolutely right, part of the problem was thinking of a better hook. So the guy finds out he’s a robot. So what? I could never figure out how to formulate a better hook.

      During that break, I decided to go back to a short story I had written, and finish it/edit it a bit. I then realized that I actually really liked that short and wanted to expand it into a novel. Crucially, my fiancee and I started dating at that time, and he suggested I read Save the Cat: The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need.

      Victoria, I literally cannot overstate how much this book helped me. It talks about how to structure a story (it applies just as well to novels as it does to screenplays), in terms of all the beats that you need, and where exactly they need to occur in your story. I wrote a post about the “Beat Sheet” if you’d like to check that out. Out of all the books I’ve read about storytelling and novel-writing this one is hands down the absolute best.

      So I applied the beat sheet to the new novel I started writing (the short story I wanted to expand) and am happy to say that I’m just about one or two months away from completing that manuscript. This time, the novel will only have taken me about 3.5 years to write. That might still sound like a lot, but just keep in mind I could typically only write for 1-2 hours per day in the morning before work. If you have a day job, novel-writing will take longer.

      So if you’re struggling with your story idea, I highly recommend you read Save the Cat and its sequel book Save the Cat Strikes Back. I believe this book will provide the guidance you’re looking for (and that I too was looking for). It doesn’t just advise you on how to structure a story, but gives very detailed guidance on what needs to happen in each beat in terms of plot and character development. If you read it, you’ll be able to apply the Beat Sheet to your idea and see if that helps you expand the story.

      Thanks again for your comment and sorry for my super long response! I just wanted to answer your questions as best I could!


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