The Journal: Story Gestation

In today’s Journal

* Dean Wesley Smith
* I actually wrote
* Topic: Story Gestation
* Today
* Of Interest
* The Numbers

Dean Wesley Smith has announced he’s going to shut down sign-ups for both the Licensing Transition learn-along and the Shared Worlds class on December 8. Just sayin’.

I actually wrote 1700 words on the Blackwell Ops 7 novel yesterday. I keep thinking I could just set it aside and forget it, but the story’s too good to ignore. So I’m back at it again.

I was going to share a comment I left on a post (see the 3rd item in “Of Interest” today), but when I went back to copy it, it wasn’t there. The gist of the comment was this:

Topic: Story Gestation

I’ve learned that everything happens for a reason. So many people echo this thought that it’s become clilché. I actually mean it. Even encountering a delay in writing a story happens for a reason.

Of my 50+ novels and novellas, that unnerving kind of delay has happened to me twice.

Once, a friend inadvertently let slip how he would end the story I was working on at the time. I was only about halfway through, and he was right. It would be a great ending. But that slip shut me down cold. I can’t write to an ending that I already know. Where’s the excitement of discovery in that?

So I let it go, wrote other things, and eventually returned to the story and finished it a couple of months later. Without the pat ending. (grin)

It’s important to note that the finished story itself was probably different than it would have been had I kept writing despite having been inadvertently handed an ending. Something I learned or read or wrote during the delay no doubt informed the story that I eventually finished. In other words, the delay allowed the story to be what it was supposed to be from the beginning.

The second time was with my current WIP, Blackwell Ops 7. This time I simply got stuck. Even “just write the next sentence” didn’t work, though it usually does. The story simply didn’t “feel” right. I’ve learned to listen to that little creative voice in the back of my mind.

So I stopped writing on BO7 back in mid-August. No harm, no foul, and no worries. I “tried” a little in September and October, but it just wasn’t there. Still, the story excited me each time I looked at it. So I knew I would finish it eventually. When it was time.

Again, I let it go and moved on to other things: short stories, learning, etc.

And during my time away from the story, it simmered in the back of my mind. When I returned to it yesterday, it was time. It was right, and I blazed through 1700 words in just over an hour like it was nothing.

Now I’m back to the “just write the next sentence” stage. The story is already nearing the wrapping stage, so I suspect it will be a short novel (25,000 to 40,000 words), which is fine. It will be what it will be.

The lesson? Sometimes a story just needs longer for gestation. Heinlein’s Rule 2 says to finish what you write. But it doesn’t say when. (grin)

Today I’ll write more on BO7, and I’ll probably dive into the new Shared World videos Dean put up. (I’m more excited about that than I am about the WIP.)

And maybe I’ll work a little more on setting up the shared world I’m developing for others to write in. I still plan to announce it formally at the first of the year.

Talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

See “Breaking Leonard’s 10 Rules—If You Want” at A thought-stirring post.

See “New Videos In Shared World Class” at

See “October 2019 progress” at Thought-provking post. Do you see yourself or your process here?

See the Passive Guy’s take on “NaNoWriMo Has The Writers…” at

See “Favorite Holiday Recipe” at Includes a step-by-step recipe for Almond Biscotti.

The Numbers

Fiction words yesterday…………………… 1700
Nonfiction words today…………… 680 (Journal)

Total fiction words for the month……… 8181
Total fiction words for the year………… 393274
Total nonfiction words for the month… 15120
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 296200
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 689474

Calendar Year 2019 Novels to Date…………………… 7
Calendar Year 2019 Novellas to Date……………… 1
Calendar Year 2019 Short Stories to Date… 4
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 43
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 197
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31

2 thoughts on “The Journal: Story Gestation”

  1. Harvey, you’ve really been hitting me with these timely posts. My current novel WIP has me stopped cold the past couple of weeks and I think I’m in that gestation period. I bought a couple of research books, focused on publishing my last novel, and all this time, I’ve still felt a desire to get back to that story and finish it. I know I have a story coming up for Kris’ science fiction workshop, so I’m not too worried about getting back on some sort of writing wagon…

    • Thanks, Phillip. I’m glad it helps.

      Sometimes stories have to end in their own good time (shrug). It’s still annoying though. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, but it’s comforting and calming to know the story’s still there. I don’t ‘think’ about it while I’m away from it, and I don’t ‘have’ to finish it (it isn’t important in its own right). I just know I will finish it when it’s time because it already exists. I just haven’t finished recording it yet.

      It’s a fine line, though. My first trick when I stall is to write the next sentence, whatever occurs. If it still won’t come I check to be sure I haven’t written past the end of a scene or taken a wrong turn (a turn the characters didn’t want to take). Then I check to be sure I’m not bowing to my critical mind by stopping.

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