Crossroads in Writing

Ann H Gabhart Ann's Posts, One Writer's Journal

I’ve been thinking about crossroads since I’m trying redo my cover for Angels at the Crossroads. So I’ve been looking at pictures of crossroads and road signs while trying to decide what’s best for Jerry’s story. Someone suggested a new title might be best, but some things can’t be redone. Too many people have already bought the book titled as is and I wouldn’t want them to see a new title and think it was a new book. The new cover art will be enough of a confusion for people who already have the book. I’ve seen books that were re-issued with new covers and I’m never absolutely sure it’s the book I’ve already read or not. The cover often times brings up a clearer memory than the title. Of course I have picked up books I’ve already read years before and when I started reading them again, I wasn’t sure what happened in the story but it all seemed to echo in my head. I’m not one to read novels over. Too many books out there I want to read and too little time.
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But the idea of crossroads in writing has been playing around in my head. Maybe because I’m at one of those crossroads right now. It’s time to decide what road I’m going to follow for my next story. I’ve got to pick a time. I have the place since I’m writing another book set in my Shaker village of Harmony Hill. I have one name for a Shaker sister and I see this character or rather I’m reading her journal entries in my mind. But that’s all I have. And I need a lot more than that. I need to stand at the crossroads of story possibilities and decide which road I want to wander down.
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That doesn’t mean my creating feet will stay on that road. Backtracks are certainly allowed in writing. If an idea isn’t working, I can go back and take off down another path. But I need to give the path a chance and not let the wilderness area in front of me make me too timid to keep going. Wilderness area, you ask. That’s the part ahead where I might not have the foggiest idea of what’s going to happen or who might pop out of the trees alongside the road. I do usually have a direction in my stories. In the book I just finished, I knew this one thing was going to happen but I didn’t know how. And I thought it would happen much earlier in the story. And that event was a crossroads in my story. Because of that happening the direction of my characters’ lives was changed forever. There was no going back for them to try a different path.
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Writers face many crossroads. Not only in plotting but in character development and writing and even revising. This word or that word. This character or that character. And if a writer isn’t careful or perhaps confident would be a better word (see those choices), then she might stand too long in the crossroad of creation and let the story slip completely away from her.
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One way I make those crossroad choices is by reading history books about whatever era I’m writing about. So guess it’s time to crack open some history books and get my feet moving down a new path. Hope you are walking down some interesting paths yourself this week. Thanks for reading.