Everything evolves, including fiction. Fiction starts as an idea, which gradually grows to a novel, if that’s what it is destined to be. I have evolved a good story idea to the point of actually writing it. A few years ago, I wrote a NaNoWriMo story about the son of Santa. It went through many versions before that final one. It could still evolve after that. We call it, editing.
Actually, that story went through many rewrites before I abandoned it. The story still wanted to be told, and I tried it again during NaNoWriMo a few years ago. Plots evolve, sometimes according to a plan, and sometimes not. The evolution of a story starts with the idea that evolves into a framework. The framework evolves through the addition of details that cause the twists and turns that make a good story. The best ones appear to end before the book is. Then a twist takes the story in a new direction. The story doesn’t start with all the details, sometimes the story shapes the details, but usually the details shape the story.
An author can start with a broad outline, but the details give the nudges along the way. Sometimes they can butt the story right off course, which means that the author has to nudge story back onto the correct path. That’s just how it goes.
A story’s evolution from idea to fully-fledged story is slow, while it is written. The plot has to move fast and have several details that can make or break the story.
As it does for living things, evolution shapes the story. Unlike life, the story’s evolution has a beginning and an ending. It ends with the final version of the story. Evolution in life is an ongoing process. It can be that way with fiction as well. Sometimes an author gets caught up in a rewriting loop and never actually finishes the story. The trick is to know when to stop rewriting and let the story go.
Evolution takes time. That’s why biologists still call it a theory. It is unproven in nature, but not in fiction. The story evolves from a rough idea to a polished work. How long that process should take is unknown. Some stories seem to write themselves, while others require long months to even years of patient rewrites to give them that final polish. That’s why most writers write many more words than actually appear within the final work. Careful editing shapes the finished work of fiction. Sometimes, evolution leads to extinction. Many times the work is spoiled when it is over edited. It is important for an author to know what it is writing, so that it knows when to stop. Authors must weigh each word against the work as a whole. Mutations are not always beneficial; the wrong one can kill the organism, without spreading to the next generation. The wrong word can kill a work stone dead, like the mutation, the work doesn’t continue to the next version.
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