Don’t Be Afraid of The Story

by Rachel Hauck, @RachelHauck

A couple years ago as I fast drafted a novel, I realized I had this tension in my gut.

What was going on?

Yea, it’s tough to hammer out a first draft on a tight deadline but I was pleased with my progress. I wasn’t behind schedule. Though the story wasn’t really popping.

Hmm… the tension? I concluded I was actually afraid of my story.

We talk about being afraid of the blank page, but it’s really being afraid of the story.

Was I heading in the right direction?

Was the tension sustainable?

Did I even like this story?

Would my readers?

As the questions rose, I knew there were other things missing.

Was my setting right? Did I have the right research for my 1930s timeline?

How much of my heroine’s past really played into the story?

I was tense over what I didn’t know. And the fact I was sure I didn’t know it.

Makes perfect sense right?

A lot of times I get tripped up because I know that I know that I don’t know details and tidbits that would make my story deeper and richer.

When writing The Wedding Dress, I did a lot of research on Birmingham. In the process, I came across the convict leasing program.

When I decided to use it in the story, assigning it as a justice issue for my 1912 heroine, it made her more passionate and layered than if I’d left it out.

Plus, I could bring to light the injustice of the era.

And I got to write this great paragraph:

“The white guards talked and joked while the men of color swung axes and hammers against the hard concrete. Emily lowered her gaze. It must be back-breaking, near impossible, to break up what had been set and hardened with time in this city.”

See the metaphor? All from research. So when I’m in crunch mode and crisis, I start to think, “I need more research.”

I’ll panic with, “I need to read more books by all the writers in the whole world who are better than me so I can writer better books myself and ahhh!”

Yea, it’s stupid. It’s fear. It’s being afraid of the story.

Some of you are afraid of the story. Afraid to let go. You won’t submit to an editor or agent. You won’t let a writer friend read it. Maybe you keep revising and revising. Maybe you’re afraid to say, “This book is done. I need to move on to another book.”

The story has a life of it’s own, trust me I know. A will, a force that keeps us awake at night.

But face your fears. Don’t be afraid of the story, or what changes might come about.

Be of good courage. And go write something brilliant!



Tenley Roth’s first book was a runaway bestseller. Now that her second book is due, she’s locked in fear. Can she repeat her earlier success or is she a fraud who has run out of inspiration?

With pressure mounting from her publisher, Tenley is weighted with writer’s block. But when her estranged mother calls asking Tenley to help her through chemotherapy, she packs up for Florida where she meets handsome furniture designer Jonas Sullivan and discovers the story her heart’s been missing.

A century earlier, another woman wrote at the same desk with hopes and fears of her own. Born during the Gilded Age, Birdie Shehorn is the daughter of the old money Knickerbockers. Under the strict control of her mother, her every move is decided ahead of time, even whom she’ll marry. But Birdie has dreams she doesn’t know how to realize. She wants to tell stories, write novels, make an impact on the world. When she discovers her mother has taken extreme measures to manipulate her future, she must choose between submission and security or forging a brand new way all on her own.

Tenley and Birdie are from two very different worlds, but fate has bound them together in a way time cannot erase.

New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal best-selling, award-winning author Rachel Hauck loves a great story. She serves on the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers. She is a past ACFW mentor of the year. A worship leader and Buckeye football fan, Rachel lives in Florida with her husband and ornery cat, Hepzibah. Read more about Rachel at