When I moved into my new place in Colorado Springs, I was surprised to discover something just a few miles down the highway: the US Air Force Academy. When I was a kid, I thought I wanted to attend the Academy and become an Air Force officer. At least, I did until I found out how much math (my least favorite subject) pilots have to do.
More than fifteen years later, I'm living within minutes of the place I'd dreamed about. Yet now I don't feel anything about it. It's there. It's cool to see the buildings as I drive by. But that's all. I have no regrets.
The same kind of thing can happen to us when we write. We might start out with a certain goal or idea for our work. Maybe we initially think we're writing a screenplay or believe our story is about the protagonist's struggle to defeat the bad guys and save the world. It's always good to have a vision of where we're going, even if we don't know all the details of how we'll get there.
But as we write, our ideas can change. Our original concept might turn out to be too small to sustain a full story. We might realize that the protagonist should be a different character than the one we first picked. We might discover more layers to the plot as we flesh it out and then realize that the story isn't really about what we thought it was. We might even realize that our screenplay would work better as a novel or vice versa.
And all that is okay!
There's no law that says we have to stick to our original ideas even if they're not working out. The only "law" is that we need to do what's best for the story. But that's not always easy. Sometimes it means letting go of our most cherished ideas of what we thought a story would be. Some people in the industry call this "murdering your darlings" (yikes). But sometimes the hardest changes to make are the ones that the story needs the most.
For instance, I'm the type of person who likes to watch the special features on DVDs. When I was watching the deleted scenes for National Treasure 2, I found that one of them was a twenty-minute sequence that the director had cut. (That's roughly 13 percent of the total film!) In his introduction to this sequence, the director explained that "sometimes you have to cut good stuff to tell a great story." And I found that as interesting as the deleted sequence was, the final film tells that part of the story in a more streamlined and logical way and with better pacing. This experience greatly deepened my respect for the director.
If you're having trouble figuring out why your story isn't progressing, or if you need help mustering up the courage to make the changes it needs, I can help. Visit https://calendly.com/storyengineer7/15-minute-intro-call to book a discovery call with me so we can get started.