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BlueLucario
03-24-2008, 03:02 AM
:rant:Every day, I want to write something and when I sit down in the chair to start writing, I just stare at the screen for hours. Knowing that I can't get any thoughts on paper, I just check emails, and come back. I couldn't write. I'm just staring at the last sentence. What to write next? It's irritating. I swear.:rant:


:cry:
I have written 30,000 words and on the 98th page. Chapter 8/18-25

I'm 33% done with the work.

I want to finish, but I'm having a hard time writing.

Whether it's Writer's Block, Sagging Middles, Unfinished Work Syndrome(I tried googling it, nothing.). HELP! :(

What's the problem with me? How can I fix this? How can i prevent this from happening again?

HELP! This 5 hours of screen staring is driving me crazy!!!!:Soapbox:

Devil Ledbetter
03-24-2008, 03:08 AM
Blue, I know everyone around here says to do BIC (Butt in Chair), however, I find that when I'm really, really stuck somewhere with the story, taking a few days off from writing to just think about the story helps a lot. Avoid the internet if you can during those days, and go to some new places even if that's just visiting a park, restaurant or shopping mall you don't normally frequent.

Sometimes the story just needs a little space to sort itself out in our brains, without so much pressure. If you want to write something, try freewriting or interviewing your characters. Be sure to ask them what happens next. They might surprise you with a juicy plot twist. Or they may be refusing to cooperate because they dislike some part of the story you've already written.

Good luck.

Rolling Thunder
03-24-2008, 03:09 AM
When you get back on track after this point, try this: When you've finished for the day do a mental inventory of what you did. Even if it was only a thousand words or so, go back and re-read it. Then type out a few quick ideas on where you're going with the story from there. It doesn't make any difference if they seem sane or crazy at that time, just do it. Three or four will do.

Then, when you come back to write again, you have a quick reference to motivate you on what comes next in the WIP. Make it a habit and you'll have an easier time for the few seconds it takes.

underthecity
03-24-2008, 03:14 AM
Sometimes you just have to sit down and write crap. If you're staring at the screen unable to come up with something "good," just write whatever crap scene comes to mind. Maybe you'll generate 500 words, maybe a 1,000. When you're finished, at least something will be down. And out of those thousand words of crap, there might be gold buried in there, whether it's a character revelation or great plot point. Or maybe even a great piece of dialogue.

Just write. Something will come of it. Even if you have to cut most of it. It's better than nothing.

allen

WannabeWriter
03-24-2008, 03:21 AM
Just write no matter how it turns out. Writing from scratch is much harder than editing text that is already there, so don't expect great words on the first pass. :)

Mumut
03-24-2008, 03:23 AM
I find this is because I'm too far ahead of myself. I have to edit as I go and this means I need to re-read fom the start. I'm in that phase now, myself.

Constantine K
03-24-2008, 03:29 AM
Good advice so far. Taking a few days off to just let the story mellow in your brain is a fabulous idea. If you don't want to wait, though . . .

Drop a huge bomb in your story that will shake things up. It might just be a character being killed off, or something along those lines, but it will give you a "jump start," if you will.

You may end up cutting it out in the end, but in the meantime it should reinvigorate your work and give you some new plot ideas.

Also, it's a good idea to ask yourself: "What is my story really about? What am I trying to say?" I don't mean theme-wise, I mean what made you want to write the story in the first place.

Maui Author
03-24-2008, 03:41 AM
That happens to me too and when it does, I look at the clock and set a time limit. Say it is 3pm, I say that I will type til 4pm, even if what I write sucks. But just so I can get an hour of writing done and feel like the project is moving.

And it works! Just by setting that time goal, I work for the hour! And then I don't feel stuck anymore.

Mythica
03-24-2008, 03:50 AM
Put it away and pull out another WIP or start something new :) If I get stuck somewhere, that's what I do. That way, you're not really wasting time and you're giving yourself something fresh to look at. Everyone needs a bit of change once and a while. Good luck!

chevbrock
03-24-2008, 04:35 AM
I second the "go away and do something else" suggestions. I like to go and do something repetitive, like laps of the pool, or mowing the lawn. Something that will cause your brain to "switch off" the activity and "switch on" your creative brain.

Have a conversation with your character (whether inside the safety of your head, or out loud - who am I to judge?) Think about how they would do the activity that you are doing. Think about other situations, not necessarily in your WIP, and how your characters would react to those. Sometimes, stuff pops up just by doing this, for me.

Zoombie
03-24-2008, 05:16 AM
Work out and play video games, that's my motto.

Or if I'm in a world conquering mood, wrangle some freinds together for a game of Dust (my latest boardgame. Like Risk, but...better). Anything that makes you think, you'll find your brain thinking of other things. Like...your story.

I was actually walking home when I realized what had been sticking in my story and making it not progress. It was a real "aha" moment, quite cool.

IceCreamEmpress
03-24-2008, 06:16 AM
Sometimes I find it helpful to fill in what I want to happen in a chapter if I can't write it.

As in:

Chapter 18

In this chapter, Ariadne tells Derek that she loves him. Derek shows his wishy-washy nature in his response. Meanwhile, Bruno and Leon are searching Professor Wilson's office for the treasure map. We learn more about the history of the two burglars, and why Leon never gets angry at Bruno's taunts (long friendship dating back to their childhood working for a sadistic master thief). Professor Wilson's office is described in some detail: work in the first mention of the silver spyglass of Jean Lafitte (though neither Bruno nor Leon know what it is). End with a cliffhanger--will Charlotte Wilson discover Bruno and Leon ransacking her mother's office?


Sometimes just listing what you want to happen in a chapter opens the door and lets the words out.

Feathers
03-24-2008, 06:20 AM
The first thing I try when I'm stuck like this is BIC. If that doesn't work, I take a few days off, thinking, being bored, listening to new music and people watching. Stuff to inspire my creative juices and get me pondering about my story. If THAT doesn't work (and it usually does) I go and try what Constantine K suggested, the whole bomb-drop, what original idea got my story going? thing.

And finally, If I'm still stuck, I try outlining, or writing a synopsis/query. By trying to summarize my story it really makes me think about the way I'm doing things and how good they look. In the act of writing my query, I often come up with something to fix my block.

Some great advice on this thread. I hope it helps you get over your block :)

-Feathers

NicoleMD
03-24-2008, 09:14 AM
BIDC (Butt in Different Chair) works well for me. I move my laptop all around the house, and if I'm in a "zone" I might keep the location for a few days. If things are really going bad, I go with paper and pen out back in the hammock (BIH). Or a coffee shop (BICS), or writing somewhere I've never been (BISINB).

So try switching it up. Or go for a long walk and think about your plot. Hope this helps. :)

Nicole

Linda Adams
03-24-2008, 02:17 PM
It's probably not writer's block. It's probably more likely that you're pushing your boundaries of knowledge, which would be expected. So let me ask this question: Have you introduced any subplots into the story yet? If not, introduce one now.

Charlie Horse
03-24-2008, 05:07 PM
Sometimes you just have to sit down and write crap. If you're staring at the screen unable to come up with something "good," just write whatever crap scene comes to mind. Maybe you'll generate 500 words, maybe a 1,000. When you're finished, at least something will be down. And out of those thousand words of crap, there might be gold buried in there, whether it's a character revelation or great plot point. Or maybe even a great piece of dialogue.

Just write. Something will come of it. Even if you have to cut most of it. It's better than nothing.

allen

What he said.

writer friend
03-24-2008, 05:29 PM
Please feel encouraged! You've written 30,000 words. You're creative! Every type of genius has a little "shadow" side to it. Musicians have their particular problems, so do writers. I agree with several people who suggest finding a different location, temporarily, to write. If you are lucky enough to own a lap top, great. If not, yellow legal pad and pen can go anywhere. Fall in love with your characters all over again. If you have a VERY VERY trusted and positive type friend, can you get a copy of a chapter or two to that person? Even so, don't listen if they tell you to start over. DON'T. This may sound odd, but I don't give chapters even to trusted friends if there responses are too negative the first time I show them something. Yes, I want their opinions, but please, be gentle! Enjoy the weather if it's nice. Find inspiration in other works in the same genre that you enjoyed and ask yourself "why did I love that movie or book?" But this is your work. Feel good about all the work you've done. Many people NEVER get that far and quit at twenty pages. Writing is like giving birth: all good things take time, gentle care, and appreciation. A wonderful lady at a 50th, yes, 50th H.S. reunion I attended with a family member had come through all sorts of hard times. She looked twenty years younger than anyone there though! I asked her her secret and she said, "I always just told myself 'You can do it!" I kept repeating it each time I had a challenge and the words were like magic." I think positive vibes are truly contagious! And I believe that you too, can do it!
Wishing you all the best.
Writer Friend

Bufty
03-24-2008, 06:03 PM
Granted, there's a lot to be said for encouragement.

Blue can only do it if she stops 'frittering about' and concentrates upon 'doing' it, as encouraged to do. She should forget about posting every chapter of this work-in-progress on the net as soon it is written. Doing so gets her no useful feedback.

On the contrary, she has no end of encouragement here and never-ending advice - usually on the same topics.

Blue - take a break from staring at the screen. Inspiration doesn't come from a screen -it comes from within yourself.

Phaeal
03-24-2008, 06:10 PM
Sometimes I find it helpful to fill in what I want to happen in a chapter if I can't write it.

Sometimes just listing what you want to happen in a chapter opens the door and lets the words out.

Excellent advice. I do this kind of focused freewriting all the time. Often I'll do a paragraph of it just before quitting for the day, so I'll have a prompt to get me into the next day's writing. I put the paragraph in caps; for me, the capitalization means I'm going into a different mode, a sort of thinking-out-loud writing..

For example:

OKAY. NEXT THING THAT WILL HAPPEN IS EDDY WILL DISCOVER SHOGGOTH SLIME UNDER HER BED, WHICH CAN'T BE A GOOD SIGN, AND SEAN WILL CONFESS THAT HE'S BEEN TRYING OUT NEW SPELLS FROM THE NECRONOMICON, AND EDDY WILL FREAK. WHERE'S RACHEL? BRUTUS EATS SHOGGOTH SLIME?

If I was stuck in the midst of a section, I might write:

ARGH, I CANT BELIEVE THIS CRAP JESUS PLEASE GIVE ME AN IDEA JUST ONE IDEA ABOUT HOW YOU GET SHOGGOTH SLIME OUT OF ORIENTAL CARPET OKAY THIS MUST HAVE BEEN A PROBLEM FOR THE MEDIEVAL ARAB ALCHEMISTS SO SEAN WILL GO BACK TO THE NECRONOMICON AND FIND A POTION TO LIFT SHOG STAINS AND EDDY WILL DEFREAK ENOUGH FOR THEM TO DISCUSS THEIR NEXT MOVE AND MAYBE BRUTUS WILL BARF

dpaterso
03-24-2008, 06:24 PM
Best. Outline. Ever.

-Derek

Stew21
03-24-2008, 06:28 PM
Did you do any of the writing exercise homework I gave you? Sometimes writing to prompts on short exercises will start the flow of words for the WIP. Do some writing exercises, it will free up the words.

Shweta
03-24-2008, 06:34 PM
Since people are giving awesome fundamental-level suggestions, this should be in BWQ to help other people too. So, moved.

-Shweta

inkkognito
03-24-2008, 06:58 PM
I like BIDC when I'm stuck. Usually I'm chained to my laptop in the family room, but sometimes I'll grab a notebook and go outside, or treat myself to a nice working lunch, or go to a bookstore or whatever and do a little work there. It may not end up being on my WIP, but it always ends up generating new ideas for something else at the very least.

Calla Lily
03-24-2008, 07:06 PM
OKAY. NEXT THING THAT WILL HAPPEN IS EDDY WILL DISCOVER SHOGGOTH SLIME UNDER HER BED, WHICH CAN'T BE A GOOD SIGN,

<snip>

HOW YOU GET SHOGGOTH SLIME OUT OF ORIENTAL CARPET OKAY THIS MUST HAVE BEEN A PROBLEM FOR THE MEDIEVAL ARAB ALCHEMISTS SO SEAN WILL GO BACK TO THE NECRONOMICON AND FIND A POTION TO LIFT SHOG STAINS

Greatest idea I've seen in a week, Phael. Should be a horror-comedy starring [female name here] who runs the "Out, Damned Spot" cleaning service, specializing in eradication of Elder God scat and Shoggoth slime. No extra charge for shredding any stray sheet music of Erich Zann.

BlueLucario
03-24-2008, 07:18 PM
Actually, I like IceCreamEmpress' Idea. Why didn't I think of that? I think I oughta try it.

Also, subplots. Linda, do you also mean fillers? I don't think I have any of those. I feel that I am too focused on writing scenes relevant to the story. It's like everything I write has to be significant. Like, if my main character found a spoon. I put that spoon there for a reason. When you write the reader assumes that the spoon is important. Everything I write seems to only foreshadow.

girlyswot
03-24-2008, 07:56 PM
Also, subplots. Linda, do you also mean fillers? I don't think I have any of those. I feel that I am too focused on writing scenes relevant to the story. It's like everything I write has to be significant. Like, if my main character found a spoon. I put that spoon there for a reason. When you write the reader assumes that the spoon is important. Everything I write seems to only foreshadow.

Subplots aren't fillers. They're plot arcs that concern minor characters, or even the major characters but that take less page space than the main plot. And like everything else, they work best when they're relevant to the story. Use them to show your MC's development from a different angle, or to mirror the point of the main plot, or to illustrate the motivation of one of the other characters or... a whole host of things that will add to your main story, not detract from it.

DeleyanLee
03-24-2008, 08:00 PM
The trick that works for me is that when I sit down to write, that's the only thing I'm allowed to do. No email. No solitaire. No web surfing. BICFOK and that's it. Stare at the blank screen if there's no words coming for the entire alloted writing time.

The mind will only take so long of enforced "silence" before the words start to come. Some people take longer than others, but the words will be trained to come when it's time to write. And they'll even become a steady stream of good words.

My experience is that you've just got to train yourself to do the work.

Riley
03-24-2008, 08:53 PM
Yeah, sitting down and just working does often help. I think you're just stuck on the proverbial hump, Blue. I don't know about everyone else, but I've noticed that it seems most difficult to work between words 25,000 and 32,000, which is a pretty big gap.

When I personally come to these places, I know that the chance of me dropping the work is fifty percent. That's out of the eighteen or so novels (most of them badly-written, heh,) I have saved on my computer.

Fill in the chapters, write an outline for a couple of scenes. Push through it. The longer you dally, the bigger chance you have that you won't get through the work at all, which would be terribly sad.

You'll hit the hump one way or another every time you write a long piece. It's fatigue. It's knowing that there are other ideas you could pursue that might be better than what you're currently writing. It's feeling that every word you're planing in your sentences is the wrong one, sounds fake, is ugly.

What used to help for me was assigning myself a bunch of homework and chores. All of a sudden, I "found" my inspiration! It kind of irritates parents, though, so you might want to watch that. ;)

Good luck!

Phaeal
03-24-2008, 10:31 PM
Greatest idea I've seen in a week, Phael. Should be a horror-comedy starring [female name here] who runs the "Out, Damned Spot" cleaning service, specializing in eradication of Elder God scat and Shoggoth slime. No extra charge for shredding any stray sheet music of Erich Zann.

:roll:

Shred the sheet music of Erich Zann??? Never! However, the carpets do need some attention.

Maybe I could co-star the Damned Spot lady in my second Sean and Eddy novel. Her business will be based in Arkham and serve the entire Kingsport-Arkham-Dunwich-Innsmouth area, with side trips to Providence. She will call herself Mac and be played by Katee Sackoff in orange (or slime green) coveralls and backwards baseball cap.

See? A little freewriting and I have the start of another whole novel. ;) Thanks, Callalily!

Calla Lily
03-24-2008, 10:41 PM
Always glad to help a fellow Lovecraftian.

My vampire does chainsaw carving in Newburyport. Perhaps he can try his hand at a shoggoth or two, who could hold a tray covered with Damned Spot business cards. Should be great sellers at Hallowe'en. :D

BlueLucario
03-25-2008, 01:08 AM
It's probably not writer's block. It's probably more likely that you're pushing your boundaries of knowledge, which would be expected. .

I'm going to look up something about sub-plots. But I don't understand ehat you mean by pushing my boundaries of knowledge. Is it possible for you to elaborate? Before I take this literally?

ishtar'sgate
03-25-2008, 01:51 AM
Everything I write seems to only foreshadow.
This makes me wonder if you know where you're going with your story. Do you have an end goal in mind? Sometimes when we're just thrashing around with no real direction, that's what happens. We're leading up to something but we don't know what that something is. I agree that it's probably a good idea to walk away from it for a while and give your mind a rest. Do something physical. Clean out the cobwebs.
Subplots add dimension to your story. Your through plot may be a simple romance but for added dimension you may have your MC worried about an ailing family member or a brother who's in jail or a friend who's suicidal - things like that. This pulls her in other interesting directions. You would do the same thing for the guy. Just think of it as the way life unfolds. It isn't nice and neat with only one thing to worry about or focus on. It's made up of lots of side issues with family and friends and work etc.
Hope that helps some.
Linnea

Mr Flibble
03-25-2008, 02:08 AM
I'm going to look up something about sub-plots. But I don't understand ehat you mean by pushing my boundaries of knowledge. Is it possible for you to elaborate? Before I take this literally?

It means you are learning. And so now what you might have written in the past seems....well not quite right. BUT you may not know what right is yet, or at least not how to do it. So you have to keep trying out different things until you get that little light bulb go 'ping' and then you'll wonder why you didn't get it before. When you get the ping, you'll be off like a rocket, with luck.

But the ping takes a lot of trial and error, a lot of the dreaded W word -- work. Just keep going, because the only way that eureka moment is going to happen is if you keep trying, write that first draft,trying, write that first draft, trying OMG I GOT IT!!!!

BlueLucario
03-25-2008, 02:29 AM
That's the thing. I can't. :( Even if I try.

underthecity
03-25-2008, 02:35 AM
Well, if that's the case, take a few days off from it. Watch some TV, relax, maybe even . . . read a novel. You'll come back to writing when you feel it's time.

allen

Linda Adams
03-25-2008, 02:42 AM
Also, subplots. Linda, do you also mean fillers? I don't think I have any of those. I feel that I am too focused on writing scenes relevant to the story. It's like everything I write has to be significant. Like, if my main character found a spoon. I put that spoon there for a reason. When you write the reader assumes that the spoon is important. Everything I write seems to only foreshadow.

Not fillers. A subplot is something that's important to the story, and in fact, every novel needs at least one or more. The main story simply isn't enough to sustain a novel for 90K. That's probably why you're running into problems around 100 pages. The first 100 or so pages, depending on the length of the book, is the foundation of the entire book. If pieces are missing, like subplots, it'll start showing up when you're making the transition to writing the middle of the book.

If you want an example of one, look at one of the Harry Potter books. Harry learning how to play Quidditch is a subplot--a relatively small one that wraps up well before the end of the book. But it both gives a break from the main story and pulls the main story back in when someone tries to hex Harry off his broom.

Here's something on subplots and plot threads that might be helpful: http://jodihenley.blogspot.com/2007/06/plot-threads-and-subplots.html



I'm going to look up something about sub-plots. But I don't understand ehat you mean by pushing my boundaries of knowledge. Is it possible for you to elaborate? Before I take this literally?


Anytime you write, you learn. What's very likely to happen is that you'll get to the end of your book, set it aside for a few weeks, and then come back to for a revision. And you'll be embarrassed by the quality of the early parts of the novel and more impressed with the later parts. The more writing you do, the better your writing gets.

BlueLucario
03-25-2008, 02:54 AM
NOW I get it. :)

DoctorShade
03-25-2008, 03:09 AM
This is a great thread, I'm having a similar problem, I've been stuck on page 32 (single spaced, Times New Roman) for the past 6 months. I'm thinking it is because I can't resolve some fundemental issues with my story, but mainly I am afraid to keep going, I can't help feeling that I might not be good enough to write a novel. I think this will take self-essteem building rather than cleaver writing tips offered in this thread...I really think if I just sit in front of the computer long enough, unplugg the internet and TV I might be able to do it but I can bring myself to do that. Ugh, I'm a mental case, lol

Mr Flibble
03-25-2008, 10:35 PM
err you just started a thread with that same post Blue. I answered it there.

tjwriter
03-26-2008, 04:43 AM
Blue,

It sounds like you and some others have reached mid-book (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=82802#post82802). Though, I've yet to finish a book, others have said it can be hard to get through sometimes. The link is to Uncle Jim's thread. Lots of good information there.

Also, feel free to skip over some of the parts in you work. For example, I have this section in my WIP that is really dull, but relevant, and I've yet to figure out how to present it without boring the readers out of their minds.

In the timeline of the story, my characters spend about two weeks learning what scholars of prophecies have learned from studying tomes of prophecies. Dull, but there is crucial information learned. Now, I'm most certainly not going to depict every moment of this education, so I have to pick and choose what I show the readers. Since I'm not sure what information should be presented here, I'm skipping over this, leaving a marker in my text like this:

[EVERYONE LEARNS ABOUT PROPHECIES.]

Now I can keep on going, and I have an idea of what I meant to put there.

You can also write crap. This would be having too much tell, too many details, and all the other things that can be cut out later. Most often, the author knows too many things for the story anyway. At first draft, you can toss that all in and forget about it.

Things will happen later that affect the beginning and your writing will change from what is was at the beginning as you grow as a writer. It may be a matter of skill improvement or just becoming comfortable in the voice of your character.

Just write something. It could be a narrative about the history of your character before the story starts. Anything. Eventually, you'll come around to the story.

jodi henley
03-27-2008, 12:49 PM
http://jodihenley.blogspot.com/2007/06/plot-threads-and-subplots.html
Anytime you write, you learn. The more writing you do, the better your writing gets.

hey--I'm pretty amazed you could link through to one of my older posts. But you hit it on the money--the more writing you do, the better you get.

...usually when you can't move forward in your writing, it's because you've hit a plot snag.

BlueLucario
03-27-2008, 03:19 PM
What's a plot snag?

Susan Breen
03-27-2008, 03:42 PM
Blue, You certainly get a lot of energy going on these boards, and if you get the same energy going in your writing, you really have something. But you might want to move away from the computer for a little bit. Perhaps take a pad of paper and sit on the beach and just write and see what happens. That would give you people to look at and think about.

BlueLucario
03-27-2008, 06:55 PM
Okay, I'm currently writing my WIP. It's 32,000 words. And I finally reached page 100 last night.

I've been doing great! I never felt so much energy writing since chapter one. I haven't been struggling much now. But, as I wrote I did get slightly annoyed. You have an important scene coming up, you're really excited to get there, but the annoying part is, there are other stuff in the way of getting there.

Like for example, You are so excited that the big brave knight is going to fight the dragon and save the princess, he has to hurry. So instead of just going to the dragon, he goes to a meat market and buys food and water. He finds a broken sword, and goes to the elves to get it repaired. It's a magical dragon scale sword.

Not a good example, but I think I have a word for it.
Meandering As I write the story, instead of just making my MC go to where she needs to go, the story tends to meander.

From the example above: It's like this, "Ride the horse ten miles, stop for something else, continue riding, stop for something else." The knight is running out of time, if he continues on like this he will never save the princess.

When I write the story, I tend to write it this way

Start------------------------------------------Finish

But sometimes it goes like this: \/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/

Does that happen in WIPs? It gets annoying, but I feel that it may help me a bit.

Mr Flibble
03-27-2008, 07:09 PM
Don't worry, all the meanders can come out later, if you feel they need to. Or you could just say 'Stuff this for a game of soldiers', write the exciting scene, with no mention of how he got there ( if you really need to put it in, you can do that later too)


My meanders tend to be more like planetary orbits if I don't keep control of myself.

Mel
03-27-2008, 07:13 PM
It's very acceptable to meander in a first draft. You never know what hidden gems spring forth when you finish and go back to start editing. There might be a point that you aren't seeing yet, but may come to light later.

Sometimes we're not sure why a character does something but later down the road that little something ends up being more important when something else is revealed.

For now, just continue to write until you get to the end. Untangling and fixing is for later. If you stop to question too often then the writing can begin to slow down. Put a notation beside anything you question for now, then keep moving forward.

James81
03-27-2008, 07:26 PM
Take a break from it and go somewhere and do something you don't normally do.

Go to a movie, play/theater, take a train ride, go for a hike somewhere or take a weenend and just get away--even if it's to the next time.

Sometimes you just need to reboot and experience more life before the words come. Writing is the result of the lives we lead and when our writing outpaces the lives we live, it suffers and can go dormant until we do something else.

Write a chapter longhand. Sometimes that helps too.

Bufty
03-27-2008, 08:00 PM
Meandering- in the sense of wandering aimlessly - is not good.

Captain Howdy
03-28-2008, 04:30 AM
Really glad I've found this thread. Lots of good ideas and I appreciate the encouragement members give one another, especially us struggling with that first novel.

I frequently have trouble getting the words to flow off my fingertips. I've tried a lot of the suggestions here. When I finish for the day I block out short bits for the next session, I jot notes periodically throughout the day for any part anywhere, I make myself do timed writing, I write just to write and have a word count for the day, but I get frustrated with the amount of crap that comes out.

One of my main problems is "filler" and I don't mean subplots. I mean all the junk that too many middle of the road genre writers throw into their novels. I start reading a novel and about a third of the way through it I start skimming at a rapid pace, basically all of act two. I get near the middle and pay more attention so I don't miss the plot twist but then I zip toward act three. I am easily disgusted when I have spent 8 bucks on a paperback with a great cover and catchy blurb by an author who has several books under their belt and its filled with so much nothing. I can't tell you how many times I have finished a 400 page paperback in a few days and said it could have had 200 cut out and not missed anything. On the flip side, when I read a writer who can do this so well and EVERYTHING ties together I will spend weeks reading every word and sentence.

Consequently, I have a hard time writing "filler" into my own work. I've got my plot worked out on a 60 section / 28 chapter grid, I feel my part 1, 2 and 3 turning points are strong, I've got a terrific opening scene and I am SOOOOO looking forward to writing the ending. But here I am wandering around at approx 1/4 to 1/3 of the first draft and having a hard time writing enough to meet my projected word count for a given chapter. Because I hate reading filler I can't bring myself to write it. If it doesn't have relevance It's a waste of time.

I honestly don't know how some writers have gotten published and continue to be published...and I'm thinking particularly in the suspense/thriller market.

what to do what to do

scope
03-31-2008, 06:05 AM
A first draft is just that - a first draft. You are going to rewrite and rewrite and rewrite maybe 20 to 30 times (or more) once you finish your first draft. Don't get all that hung up on your first draft. Don't take it all that seriously.

Before you started to write the first draft I assume you completed a comprehensive outline for your book, although it''s subject to any and all changes as you proceed with your actual thinking and/or writing. If not, you should do so. It's your guide, and without it you are lost in the woods.

I also assume you have established a beginning, middle, and end for your manuscript. I don't see how anyone (there are always exceptions) could start to write without such knowledge. Again, if you haven't done this I strongly advise you do so. It's your path.

How you go about actually writing is entirely up to you. We all have different ways that work for us. Try them all. In time you will find what's best for you. That's one of your missions. Me, I like to write in the late evening when it's extremely quiet and there's little else to invade my mind. Sometimes I force myself to start writing, but once started the ideas flow. Sometimes I type several pages of narrative and after re-reading same change everything. Sometimes I feel only minor changes are needed. Sometimes my writing hours turn into research time. In other words, I don't believe in any singular method to the point where I can say to anyone "one size fits all." You will find your own way through a lot of trial and error.

The one thing I alway try to do in stop when I feel I am on a roll - when I feel I know what I want to say next. I'll shutdown my computer and the following day will re-read the last few pages of what I wrote the previous evening and with knowledge of what I want to say, start writing.

Bufty
03-31-2008, 02:10 PM
Welcome, Scope. Agree with a lot of your post, but nope - wrong assumptions, even though they're all qualified.

Like many folks I choose not to outline and don't get lost. And I also don't necesarily have a prior established middle and end.

I do eventually, but - like the outline - they're not pre-requisites for starting a novel.

Horses for courses.



....Before you started to write the first draft I assume you completed a comprehensive outline for your book, although it''s subject to any and all changes as you proceed with your actual thinking and/or writing. If not, you should do so. It's your guide, and without it you are lost in the woods.

I also assume you have established a beginning, middle, and end for your manuscript. I don't see how anyone (there are always exceptions) could start to write without such knowledge. Again, if you haven't done this I strongly advise you do so. It's your path.

How you go about actually writing is entirely up to you. We all have different ways that work for us. Try them all. In time you will find what's best for you. That's one of your missions. Me, I like to write in the late evening when it's extremely quiet and there's little else to invade my mind. Sometimes I force myself to start writing, but once started the ideas flow. Sometimes I type several pages of narrative and after re-reading same change everything. Sometimes I feel only minor changes are needed. Sometimes my writing hours turn into research time. In other words, I don't believe in any singular method to the point where I can say to anyone "one size fits all." You will find your own way through a lot of trial and error.

The one thing I alway try to do in stop when I feel I am on a roll - when I feel I know what I want to say next. I'll shutdown my computer and the following day will re-read the last few pages of what I wrote the previous evening and with knowledge of what I want to say, start writing.

Linda Adams
03-31-2008, 02:45 PM
Before you started to write the first draft I assume you completed a comprehensive outline for your book, although it''s subject to any and all changes as you proceed with your actual thinking and/or writing. If not, you should do so. It's your guide, and without it you are lost in the woods.


Not everyone can work with an outline. I spent years trying outlines because everyone kept telling me I needed to do one (to qualify this: family members, friends, other writers--and it was at the time a hot topic in writing magazines). I ended up learning that I have to do things a different way because outlines simply don't work for me. They're far too rigid and structured. I even recently went back to outlines willingingly recently to solve a plotting problem I was having and had the same result--they didn't work for me.

BlueLucario
03-31-2008, 06:08 PM
They're far too rigid and structured.

I'm always into "structrured and rigid"(I don't know why.). I feel like it's the only way to keep myself from meandering and stay focused on what my characters goals are. Meandering just slows everything down. If the prince is going to fight the dragon and save the princess, I am certainly not going to let him stop at the city of elves so he could buy a hot dog. :) If he

I'm not going to write a scene in chapter eight which could have happened in chapter six because of the constant pit stops.

(Maybe that's why I need subplots.)

Bufty
03-31-2008, 06:17 PM
What?

Blue -this is in complete contrast to your opening post in this thread. If you are so structured and rigid and focused -how come you don't know what to write next?

bluntforcetrauma
03-31-2008, 06:21 PM
Find one element of your story, do some quick research. Then find something in the research (however unconnected it may seem) and go there for some study. It might just spark something.

jannawrites
03-31-2008, 06:23 PM
Perseverance and work. I had this 'lagging' period several times throughout my first draft. But even if a small doubt niggled at the back of my head, I forced myself to be confident I would finish it. I worked on it here and there, sometimes with renewed motivation and inspiration, and finally saw the end happen. Just stay strong and keep working!

BlueLucario
03-31-2008, 07:04 PM
What?

Blue -this is in complete contrast to your opening post in this thread. If you are so structured and rigid and focused -how come you don't know what to write next?

Hehe. Good Question.:Shrug:

Mel
03-31-2008, 08:00 PM
Blue, as long as you keep questioning your writing and yourself on every little thing you're going to have a hard time getting unstuck. Writing does not equal instant gratification. It's hard, it takes time, and certainly much patience.

Have you been going through Uncle Jim's thread? I think a lot of your questions would be answered there. Each time you start a new topic you receive tons of great information. My question is: Are you following any of it? Everyone is trying to help you, but you also have to help yourself and follow through on some of the advice given here.

Stew21
03-31-2008, 09:16 PM
Blue, as long as you keep questioning your writing and yourself on every little thing you're going to have a hard time getting unstuck. Writing does not equal instant gratification. It's hard, it takes time, and certainly much patience.

Have you been going through Uncle Jim's thread? I think a lot of your questions would be answered there. Each time you start a new topic you receive tons of great information. My question is: Are you following any of it? Everyone is trying to help you, but you also have to help yourself and follow through on some of the advice given here.


I agree. Lots of people have given you great advice. Are you incorporating it into your writing? doing the exercises and prompts? Reading Uncle Jim's thread, as Mel mentioned?

BlueLucario
03-31-2008, 09:34 PM
I agree. Lots of people have given you great advice. Are you incorporating it into your writing? doing the exercises and prompts? Reading Uncle Jim's thread, as Mel mentioned?

Well, I have taken almost every advice thrown at me.

Mel
03-31-2008, 09:42 PM
Taking and incorporating it are two different things. You need to do one step at a time. Work on learning one and only after you've done so, then move on to the next.

I don't think you could have worked through Uncle Jim's entire thread yet.

BlueLucario
03-31-2008, 09:49 PM
Um...Entire Thread? I'll never finish it! I did have a glance at it. Only looking at the topics I think I need.

Stew21
03-31-2008, 09:53 PM
And did you do the exercise prompts I suggested?

BlueLucario
03-31-2008, 09:58 PM
And did you do the exercise prompts I suggested?
Not yet, but I will. :e2bummed:

Um, which do you think I should start with?:e2BIC:

DWSTXS
03-31-2008, 10:03 PM
BIDC (Butt in Different Chair) works well for me. I move my laptop all around the house, and if I'm in a "zone" I might keep the location for a few days. If things are really going bad, I go with paper and pen out back in the hammock (BIH). Or a coffee shop (BICS), or writing somewhere I've never been (BISINB).

So try switching it up. Or go for a long walk and think about your plot. Hope this helps. :)

Nicole


I agree with this idea. Yesterday I wrote on the roof.

seriously though, a change of location works wonders sometimes

Stew21
03-31-2008, 10:05 PM
http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=2172446&postcount=18

here's the link to the thread where I gave them to you.
Several are listed.

People will be more than happy to continue to give advice, especially when they see that you are using it, working on it, and incorporating it. The exercises will help you fine tune things on a small scale so you can take those lessons to your bigger work. And the prompts are great for getting words (even ones not relevant to your novel) flowing and opening you up to other ideas.

Go for it.

(and remember, in the exercise threads, people post their work, we will be able to see if you're doing them.) ;)

choppersmom
04-01-2008, 12:27 AM
Um...Entire Thread? I'll never finish it! I did have a glance at it. Only looking at the topics I think I need.

A glance isn't good enough.

And when someone else looks at your work and says, well, you need to work on one of the topics you *didn't think* you needed, will you believe Trish then, and go and learn as much as you can before you wonder why your work is being criticized?

We all have to learn how to do a thing before we leap out there and do it, and if we don't take the time to learn how, we can't be surprised when we fail.

If I wanted to build a house, I wouldn't go to my local Home Depot and come back with a pile of bricks and wonder why the pile is not house-shaped. I'd learn how to build a house first, then I'd go out and build one. Can you see how that relates to you? You need to learn how to write. It doesn't happen overnight. For some, it never comes together. But the ones that succeed are the ones that are willing to build a wall and knock it down again a hundred times until it stands straight. Everyone is suggesting that that's what you should be doing. Try the exercises Trish suggested, they can only help you build your skills.

Stew21
04-01-2008, 12:33 AM
I see Blue did one of the On-the-spot exercises - Good for you, Blue! Keep doing them. And go do the exercises Uncle Jim recommends (I know I posted links to those in that other thread too).

scope
04-01-2008, 03:41 AM
Bufty,

I completely agree with you - "horses for course."

What works for me may not work for another. I only wanted to outline the way I work and suggest it may be a method for the inquirer to consider.

In the end, don't we all have to find our own way, and isn't the proof ultimately in the pudding?

romancewriter
04-02-2008, 06:59 AM
I had a similiar problem a few years back. I started off with a bang, went back to do some editing, wham, the entire process ground to a halt. Working on my story become a chore. I had to force myself to continue, and I couldn't understand what was wrong. I knew what I was doing. I understood the market I was writing for, I understood the craft. I knew how to incorporate the various conflicts and what not that made up a good story, but it didn't help. Finally I realized it was because I hadn't yet found my writing process.

That story was only the second story I'd ever completed. I finished it because it had been requested and I felt I HAD to complete it. If I didn't have that hanging over my head I probably would have given up, but if I had given up I would have never figured out my process, basically what works for me. When the lightbulb moment finally dawned finishing my story was so much easier, and each book I've done since then has gotten easier. I know what works for me.

So listen to everyone's advice and try whatever you think will work, but only you can determine what works for you. Finding your process is just as important as learning the craft.

romancewriter
04-02-2008, 07:01 AM
Sorry Scope. I said basically what you said only I took a whole lot more words to say it. I guess I should pay more attention to the thread before I go sounding off. sigh

scope
04-02-2008, 06:53 PM
No problem romancewriter. You said it all and you said it very well.

William Cook
04-02-2008, 07:11 PM
Something my wife Leslie taught me years ago was to finish writing whatever was in my 'addled brain' (Her words LOL) then sleep on it. Go back the next day and re-read it and if it made sense - go with it. I have also found that forum posting does me a lot of good. I moderate in three Search Engine Optimization (Yes American spelling) forums - so I am constantly in contact with people from around the world and when not dealing with spammers!!! We get into various debates and it affords me the opportunity to see how different peoples views vary from around the globe.

JacobWorld
04-03-2008, 09:53 AM
Something my wife Leslie taught me years ago was to finish writing whatever was in my 'addled brain' (Her words LOL) then sleep on it. Go back the next day and re-read it and if it made sense - go with it. I have also found that forum posting does me a lot of good. I moderate in three Search Engine Optimization (Yes American spelling) forums - so I am constantly in contact with people from around the world and when not dealing with spammers!!! We get into various debates and it affords me the opportunity to see how different peoples views vary from around the globe.
Speaking of relatives - my mother always told me to sleep with something you want to learn or consider, under your pillow .
Apparently it works with your brain waves and 'goes' to your brain when you sleep!!!
Now I am bit and I know that it can't be true but I still do it .

BlueLucario
04-03-2008, 10:43 PM
Oh my god. Have you ever had the feeling, like when you're so close to a good scene, something is holding you back?

It's the fight scene. I've been asking questions here to prepare for it. It's Lily, vs. Siren, the flame seductress. I'm like a page away from the scene, and then your being held back.

I don't know how to write a fight scene.

Stew21
04-03-2008, 10:48 PM
go do some fight scene writing exercises that have nothing to do with your book, just so you can get the words flowing. Then make a list of the sequence of events you want to happen in the scene.
Maybe it will get the ideas flowing and you will be able to write it.

BlueLucario
04-03-2008, 10:50 PM
go do some fight scene writing exercises that have nothing to do with your book, just so you can get the words flowing. Then make a list of the sequence of events you want to happen in the scene.
Maybe it will get the ideas flowing and you will be able to write it.

Where can I find those? You never linked them to me.

Wait? Should I just make a new thread about one?

Stew21
04-03-2008, 10:55 PM
Just do them for yourself. I don't think we have a fight scene exercise thread. Just start working on a scene for yourself and make your sequence list.

We do have a 5 minutes with a blank screen thread though. You could use thatas a place to brainstorm a fight scene which is unrelated to your characters.

Soccer Mom
04-04-2008, 12:26 AM
I have a great fight scene excercise, Blue. Watch some movies or TV with great fight scenes, some you really like. Then try to write that scene. You'll get ideas for your own fight scene.

Good luck!

Linda Adams
04-04-2008, 01:39 AM
Just write it and don't worry about how it sounds. It's the first draft. You can revise it later.

BlueLucario
04-04-2008, 01:42 AM
Oh thanks :)

xDemode
04-04-2008, 04:10 PM
You think the first draft is frustrating? The first draft is a cinch. All you have to do is write it. If it sucks, it sucks. If it doesn't, it doesn't. Just finish and have fun. If you're not having fun and enjoying it, or if you're bashing your skills every ten minutes, the writing is bound to be full of suck. That and you won't ever get your manuscript to the level where it needs to be. Draft. Revise (as many times as necessary). Then edit.

Revising (a.k.a. the second/third/fourth/fifth/etc. draft) is the hard part. You've already had your fun telling the story and now you need the story to actually make sense and be "good". Take sentences out. Move paragraphs. Show instead of tell. Remove unnecessary characters. Repeat until your novel's story is perfect.

Then edit. Get rid of typos, spelling errors, and grammar mistakes.

Of course. The entire process is easier said (written?) than done. But for your first draft, you SHOULD be having fun and enjoying your work. There's not much gratification after the first draft until you're ready to submit to a publisher.

pjutz28
04-05-2008, 08:43 PM
Pujtz here, Iíve been interested in filmmaking ever since i got my own handy cam in 7th grade. Didn't pursue my passion until about two years ago when i decided that i wanted to take filmmaking from being a hobby to being my full time career. I put together my ideas and plans and went out to find funding, that didnít turn out so well as I wasn't formally trained. I'm now based in Asia, teaching English as a Second Language, and Iím scouting for some film schools in the region. One school that caught my attention is the International Academy of Film and Television (http://www.filmschool.ph). I was hoping anyone in the forum is currently enrolled in any of their film programs; i would really like to hear an insiderís opinion

BlueLucario
04-05-2008, 09:28 PM
Dude. This is a writer's forum. Not a filmakers forum.

stormie
04-05-2008, 09:33 PM
You could try these ideas:

Change of location. Even if you don't have a laptop, bring a pad and pen.

Take a few days break. Completely. Don't even stop by here! Shut down the computer and put away the pad and pen. Read, walk, garden, whatever when normally you'd be writing.

Work on something else. I turn to writing rhyming poems, and I'm really not a poet. (Though AW thinks I am! See shameless plug below.)