Thursday, May 13, 2010

Into A Brick Wall

You may have noticed that I haven't said much about writing recently. My daily updates came to a screeching halt. Maybe you didn't notice, but now that I've pointed it out, you realize that special part of your day where you read my updates has been missing. Like a wound that you don't remember sustaining, but suddenly starts stinging only once you've noticed it. Something like that, right?

Well, even if you haven't noticed, and you don't care, I'm still going to go ahead and talk about what's going on. Basically, I've run into a brick wall. I'm pretty sure that my problem is this: I didn't prepare sufficiently before starting. I was really excited about plunging ahead after finishing my "Tenth Album" story, so I did. Unfortunately, I've discovered, after writing 6,000 words, that I'm not sure where I'm going. A lot of those 6,000 words I'm sure are pure crap.

I know that all writers are different, and they prepare to write stories differently. I think, what has worked for me in the past, is to prepare a good outline--a really detailed one that basically outlines the scenes that will be in the story, and what order they should come in. I half-assed an outline before starting the story, and then accidentally deleted that half-assed outline after only writing for a few days. That really blew it.

What I really ran into later, was that my characters weren't well drawn out. They were all the same person, but with different names. I'm going to put in some serious work over the next week or so to get my characters ready to go. I've been reading "Character and Viewpoint" by Orson Scott Card to work on that process. Hopefully, that will help me.

I also plan to force Rish to talk with me about the story on Monday, to see if he can't help me along a little bit. If you think you might be able to help me out with some advice, be sure to leave it in the comments. Thanks.


  1. I find that there is such a thing as starting a story too soon. I know this has happened when I'm making a lot of false starts and going off the rails in a bad way. Sometimes the story is just not ready to come out of the oven. I realize this is not terribly helpful, as I have no concrete marker for when a story is ready. For me, it's not an outline; it's just a point when it's percolated long enough in my brain. If I realize that I'm writing prematurely, I stop immediately, because the false starts can make it harder for the real story to find its voice.

    So, I guess my advice is - put it back in the oven for a while. Write something else, or spend your writing time brainstorming for a few days. I do not find that it's actually helpful to try to force a story to take shape when it's still doey.

  2. Big,
    I've been thinking a lot about your story recently. you've got something here and I really want you to go back and tackle it. You're right about your characters. At this point they do seem a little similar. Thinking about James, he's suffering with guilt. Or so he tells us. Now it's your job to go back into the story and show us that. Make him suffer! He's your character, not yo mama, so make him hurt! Where's his self-destructive behavior? Where's his disastrous attempt to reconcile with Jeff's widow? Where are his tics and habits?
    You need to show him with his nose in the dirt, smelling the mess he's made. He needs redemption, at some cost, to get himself out of this situation. You made it almost too easy for him. Make it hard. A big obstacle, like some horrible experience with Jeff's wife, or confronting the himself about what big part he played in Jeff's death. Make it big and difficult. Give him problems. Make him hurt.
    Go back and write this!

  3. I'm not quitting Liz. I am planning on redrafting that whole story. But that's not even the story that I was talking about in this post. The story I refer to here is called "Prime," and sometime soon, I'll get the first draft of it out to you as well. I just started on that one without the proper preparation, and found that, after 6,000 words that I no longer liked how things were turning out. Pre-writing preparation is something that I've got to get better with. So I don't find myself here again.

  4. [Liz tries to delete comment; fails miserably and sighs]

  5. Don't delete it. Your encouragement really helps me keep my good attitude. Whether we talk one story or the other. It's great.