Today is the first Wednesday for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Go visit all the participating bloggers! I couldn't be happier about this "help group," because I find encouragement in seeing how other writers deal with writerly issues. (This would be a good spot to say that misery loves company.)
Since I'm in the process of writing a new story, I would like to discuss some of the challenges I've had in writing that first draft. You go from one finished product, and right back to the drawing board! (I have nightmares about the drawing board. It has fangs and tries to eat my hand.)
This was my most recent crisis, and I'd love to know if some of you can relate:
Well, the above slogan was very timely brought to my attention by my good friend, Misty, who, in her infinite wisdom, reminded me that when I get stuck it isn't my fault.
Now, I know we all write our stories differently. Many of you are pantsters, but I'm not. It stresses me out. I outline. Mind you, my outline isn't as exacting and precise as the blueprint for the Transamerica. Mine's more like a fence, but the kind of fence you can roll under, hang from, and climb through. I get all these ideas, jot them down with arrows and bubbles everywhere, offer them to Ben for ridicule, shape the "improved" ideas into an outline, and then write.
You'd think with a story already sort of laid out, I wouldn't hit any rock walls (pits of despair? an endless abyss? Sharks with lazer-beams attached to their heads?)
Rule #1: Never assume your Imaginary Friends follow directions.
Really. We should know better. We wrote them that way!
Sure, they smile and wave and tell you everything's fine, but then one day you wake up, and you can't find them anywhere. Instead, what you find is this:
We didn't like what you did to us in Chapter 19, and, quite frankly,
we're tired of running from evil men in capes. We're on a beach on
one of those islands you haven't named, otherwise we'd tell you where
*I.F. = Imaginary Friends
They didn't like my outline, obviously, and I wasn't sure I liked it either, but I promised myself I would save the editing until the end. Finish that draft first! There's just one little problem: you can't write a story without characters. *hits head on desk* So, after much whining and grumbling, I let them have their fun, and let the story "simmer" a few weeks.
And then I started getting impatient. (and scared and afraid that I'd lost them forever...didn't they realize what they'd done? They have a sequel to get through!)
Rule #2: You can't wait for inspiration, you have to go after it...with a club. (compliments of
I set off for this unknown-island-from-my-own-imagination in order to find them. I read through all my journals, poured through all my notes and maps, studied all my character descriptions - anything to get an idea where to go. At some point I had to jump in the boat and start rowing. So I did.
AND IT WAS LIKE ROWING THROUGH CONCRETE.
Some days it was only a few leagues (three hundred words). Then a few more (five hundred). But eventually I saw them out there, laying on the beach drinking Mai Tais under a cabana. I did everything I could to lure them onboard - even promises of perfect endings! - but none of it worked as fast as I'd hoped. Then I started playing music. I gave them each their own song and had it on repeat until they felt safe to open up to me again.
Story proceeded, and I'm writing fast. *wipes brow* And it really helps knowing it was never my fault to begin with :)
So, my weapon of choice isn't really a club. It's more like an accented half-note.
Ever go through this battle? If so, how do you get your characters to open up? What's your weapon of choice?