Friday, October 24, 2008

Grumpy About Writing and Other Adventures in Plot

Despite my newspaper horoscope predicting that I would "have difficult concepts to express. Better luck tomorrow", I ended up having a really excellent class on Wednesday night. A number of students were absent, and thus we ended up having a really intimate, intense, personal conversation about plotting and the writing processes in general.

After this lovely discussion I realized that I'm fundamentally dissatisfied with the plot to my own novel.


Or maybe still.

I don't have a "problem statement." There's no sense at the beginning about what the ending should be. I don't really know what the book is ABOUT or what's at stake for the main character.

Part of the issue with this book for me is that it REPRESENTS. It's a prequel to a series that I made my name on, and there are a lot of promises it needs to fulfil not only for the reader, but for me. I usually work well under time pressure, but not this kind.

So... I dunno. I'm just grumpy about writing. What I need is some time to do some real, intense work on this book. I need some time to find out what it is about this story that fires me up (besides the paycheck.) I need a good notebook, and a nice pen (oh, I got that! Thanks, Sean.)

What do you do when you're stuck?


C.J. Carter said...

When I'm stuck, I normally take out a notebook and start writing, even if I start writing how I have nothing to write about. It always feels very silly, but it's usually effective.

It's clear that I need to develop something new, though. I've been in a writing slump for the past 2 or so years, and it's been painful to put words onto paper because none of it feels like "me" anymore. Mostly because -I've- grown, but my writing skills have not. They've sat here, stagnating.

Today I woke up and decided that it's about time to take a shot at college once more (not that I hadn't given up on it entirely). The U of M won't accept me because it turns out that my previous college wasn't accredited in the correct way that I need for the credits transferred, so my next trip is off to the local community college.

I'm -really- hoping that the combined studying, thinking, and overall knowledge and experience of going back to college will be enough to get my writing "groove" back. I'm hoping to try supplementing that with some Loft courses, even though I feel very... outmatched in that place. It's rather daunting for someone who hasn't done that much in the way of "serious" writing.

What I'm trying to say in a -very- long-winded fashion is that I guess it just comes down to identifying the problem and -immediately- taking action. In my mind, the past 2 years could have been used honing my writing skills instead of just sitting around and whining about it. Despite how good I am at sitting around and whining, I would much rather write!

Anonymous said...

Often that's what works for me too - write in pen and ink, anything.

But it has started to dawn on me that if the project is SF I get stuck when I need to do more research. Even if I wrote a lot of starter pages that felt good, I'll eventually find they didn't properly envision all the thingies (world building details, usually political structure constraining the situation but also science and gadgets) and that's really why I can't get the story to start flowing (even if I have a whole plot mapped out).

And so the usual plot and character exercises also don't work as reliably for me with SF as other stories.

That kind of being stuck bugs me a lot more too. Fishing to figure out what the unanswered questions or unquestioned assumptions are. (Critiques usually just point out that something's missing 'but I don't know what.') Slows things down...


Anonymous said...

You're welcome for the pen--now make good use of it!

Anonymous said...

I listen to music related to what I'm writing or "of the mood" or time I'm writing about. Also, plowing through some Apex slush sometimes jerks me back into the moment. lol