Listen to Your Gut: If It’s Not Supposed to Go in Your Story, Don’t Force It

“It simply isn’t an adventure worth telling if there aren’t any dragons.” – JRR Tolkien

I’m finding myself being drawn to this quote a lot lately. I agree with the genius father of modern fantasy literature. I love dragons. They’re so cool. I know, I’m a geek. I will be the first to tell you how much of a geek I am. I am probably a part of all the fandoms: Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Star Wars, Game of Thrones, The Mortal Instruments, video games (The Legend of Zelda was my childhood okay?), anime, superheroes (Iron Man is my boy), Doctor Who, you name it. If it’s got magic, space and/or dragons, I’m in. So when I originally started my high fantasy novel, I swore I would have dragons in it.

However, I began creating the story when I was 13 and then let it sit on my floppy disk— That’s right. Floppy disk. Now you can probably guess how old I am and I really hope you all know what a floppy disk is or I’m going to feel even older— for about 7 years before I picked it up again. By this time, the novel’s plot had taken shape and when all was said and done…no dragons.

For the past few weeks, I had been trying to come up with a way to add dragons to my story. I came up with elaborate schemes to have them fly in out of nowhere at the last minute. Maybe they could be part of the races that my protagonist Agi has to help, or she can stumble upon a hatchling and make it her pet/companion that will let her ride on it into battle.

To be honest, my novel’s plot is still pretty fluid and is constantly being revised so I could write my dragon in. And I really really want to. Why not? It’s my story dagnabbit and if I want dragons I should have some! But. Whenever I start to write them in, I get this feeling in my gut. You know that feeling where something’s just not right; when something’s just…wrong? Yeah. No matter how hard I tried, It just didn’t work for the story. Right now, dragons just aren’t in the picture.

What I’m trying to say is: Don’t force it.

If you’re doing something because you want it to happen and not because it’s what’s right for the story, take it out. It’s not worth it. You risk ruining your story. It will feel artificial, out of place. And your readers will catch onto that instantly. You don’t want them to raise their heads out of the pages of your book and go, “huh?” When you take them out of the story and make them question your plot, that means something is just not right.

If you’re not sure whether you’re forcing something into your story or not, try asking yourself: Does this flow well with the plot/characters/setting in the rest of my story? Do you find yourself doubting or hesitant, but make up excuses to keep it in anyway? If so, then it’s probably something that shouldn’t belong in your story.

Listen to your gut. I know you may not want to admit it, but it knows what it’s doing.

So no dragons for me. :( Now, that’s to say no dragons right now. Maybe as I keep revising and coming up with plot points for the rest of the series, I find that dragons are essential to the plot. And if that day comes where I don’t get that “wrong” feeling in my gut, you better believe I’m going to make my dragons fly in, breathing their majestic fire all over my dang books. So bring your shields. ;)

Roar.

Happy writing,

Paola ©2014

What are some things you have tried to force into your story/novel? Were you able to find a way to get rid of that “wrong” gut feeling? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below! 

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