Middle Book Blues

I haven’t written a word in nearly two weeks. The book is half done. 

I have heard that the middle of the book is the hardest bit to write, the most common place to get stuck. How do I get out of it?

I have some idea what the next biggest scene will be. I even have some idea what my character needs to do – he has a to do list! And he’s sorely behind in the list of the things he needs to do. (He was derailed by the plot bunny!) Poor guy.

But I don’t know the next immediate step. I don’t know how he gets from here to the next biggest scene and he can’t just skip from here to there. I don’t even know how he gets from here to the next thing on his to do list.

I’m stuck and it’s unpleasant. Very, very unpleasant.

 

Words Lost and Then Chopped

A few weeks back, I had a program crash. It was quiet, quick and quite painful. I lost thousands of words, about two weeks’ worth. I know, I know, you are supposed to back up. I do, I did, but not for the past two weeks. I thought there would be time for that later. (Otherwise I would have lost more than two weeks!)

I remember what I wrote. But not the exact words, the exact phrase, the details I used. So I couldn’t recreate it exactly the same. But I have finished recreating it and it is mostly the same. I think. I don’t believe I left anything out.

But it is shorter! I lost words along the way, but I don’t think I lost any details. I rearranged the scenes, yes, couldn’t help myself. I also did not have written a few pages worth of dialogue – dialogue I would deleted later anyway. (I realized a few scenes afterward that the dialogue wasn’t necessary.)

But it was only a few pages. I am astonished at how shorter the whole thing is now. It’s like I only recreated ¾ of the work I lost. It’s a puzzling.

I is for Ideas

I think I am going through an idea drought lately. Well, more like than I am stuck on the current novel in progress. I don’t know how to go on. I got the middle blues. Which is where I usually get stuck. It’s depressing. I know what happens after this bit, but not how to get there.

I guess that’s why I started the erotica novella. It’s an idea I’ve had for some time and just never really did anything about.

Though I don’t know – should I take a month-long break from the novel to do this? I am and I am hoping it’ll shake something loose. I was frustrated trying to write a transition type bit in the novel and not get getting anywhere. Maybe I should have written the piece(s) afterward, just to give myself a goal. Maybe. I don’t know.

But the erotica novella is new and interesting too so . . . I’m just not really sure if it’s a good idea taking a long break. But we’ll see.

Difficult POV

So I was writing something with multiple point of view characters. One main POV, one secondary POV, one main character. I meant it to be a short story, but it got long. (10,000+ words is a short story, yes?)

Anyway. I am rereading it now and I realize it is utter crap. And not just in the way all-first-drafts-are-crap. No. It really sucks. The POV transitions are not smooth, the voices aren’t distinct and they should be. And I am thinking there are some structure problems too. I feel scraping it and starting over.

A large part of the problem is probably that the last time I wrote a multiple POV story was in highschool. It was a sword & sorcery novel and I didn’t finish it. (It sucked, too.) Everything ever since have been single POV, where the main character is the POV character.

I meant this long story to test the multiple POV waters. I wanted to know what kind of problems I was looking at.  I am seriously considering a novel like that. Very seriously problems, I now realize.

It’ll be challenge and I don’t know if I’m up to it. Maybe I should do some more prep work first, work with both characters separately and than do something with them together. I don’t know.

In the mean time, I am writing something else. Something short and simple. :-)

D is for Done

This is my first A to Z challenge. I am beginning with D, because I didn’t realize it started already. LOL

I am done with the WiP. Done, done, done! DONE!!!!

It feels good. For a while I wasn’t sure I was ever going to be done, but I am. I had to start from the beginning last year, and I did a lot during NaNo last year. I couldn’t finish it during NaNo, but I am done now and I feel so good.

It still needs editing and rewriting and all. I reread it before finishing and I realized some of what I need to rewrite. I edited some, but only what I couldn’t force myself to leave for when I was actually editing.

I am going to leave it be for a few weeks before I start the editing process. I am not looking forward to that at all. Going to focus on short stories for the next couple weeks.

Rereading the WiP

So I came back to the WiP after not writing for a month. It was a good month, just not one meant for writing. Or blogging. Or reading, even. Well, I read more than I blogged or wrote, but even reading was minimal.

So I felt the urge to write again and opened up my file and I find I have forgotten details of my own story. Like, names. They include the names of various business and characters and so on.

Okay, yeah, the characters are minor and so are some of the business. But really!!! Does not remembering mean I should not have attempted to turn into something other than stock characters? I am not going to spend hours and hours on characters that only appear a handful of times, but that doesn’t mean they don’t get names and at least a few words of description. Does it?

Also, I didn’t expect to forget little details of the lives of the secondary characters. That’s even worse than forgetting the names of minor characters.

I realize now I have to reread the whole damn thing and resist the urge to edit while reading. I wasn’t expecting to have to do that. There are lots of pages. Thousands and thousands of words. It’s going to take a few days before I can actually start writing again.

On the Terrors of a Blank Screen

Yesterday I found myself staring at a blank screen.

See, on Scrivener each scene gets its own space and when I start a new scene, the screen is blank. And the last time I worked on the WiP, I stopped before I wrote a single word of the new scene. When I saw that blank screen, it scared me so much I just stared at it for a while. Would start to write something, change my mind, start again and stop, over and over and over again.

I have faced the blank screen before. I do it for every flash or short story I start. But yesterday it scared me more than it usually does.

It wasn’t writer’s block (not sure I believe in writer’s block anyway.) I knew what was going to happen in the scene, the characters, how they were going to react to each other, the layout of the room.  But I couldn’t get it on paper (screen).

Finally, I decided change what it shows me so I could see everything I’d written so far. That helped. I actually wrote a couple paragraphs. Of course I dumped half of what I wrote in the trash file (as opposed to deleting it entirely).

Managed a 100 something words before the headache got so bad I couldn’t write anymore.Better than nothing, but still, it’s not good.

I think the lesson I’ve learned here is to write a few lines in the next scene before stopping for the night.

Out-of-Control Stories

I was not in control of my stories this past week. I mean, if the characters are good, they lead the way, but I still manage to keep some small bit of control.

I started the friday flash – a piece involving a dragon and a village – and I thought it was going to be fantasy, a fairly traditional sword and sorcery stuff.

It turned out be erotica. Kinky erotica at that! It took me only about 200 words to realize where it was going.

I knew I couldn’t post it here. This blog is entirely too public a place for anything so explicit. Especially since I don’t provide one of those warnings: go forward only if you are over 18. Anyway, I think something as explicit as that story was going to get, it might be against WordPress’ terms of use. Not sure though.

Anyway, it would be useless for Friday flash. So I stopped work on it.

Think I will probably finish it (because I love love dragons!) But no ideas on what I will actually do with it. It might languish in my files. Not going to finish it, black out 3/4 of it and post that, even though that would be pretty funny. (Sorry, John.)

On the weekend, I started another short story. Using pen and paper, mind, because the computer was in pieces (literally, in pieces, the monitor here, keyboard over there, actual computer elsewhere).

4 pages in, I realized it was an outline for a novel, not a short story. How did I know? Well, the sheer amount of scenes I would need to explain everything was a clue. There were a couple of lines that would likely need a hundred pages to fully explain. Instead of 4 pages, I would end up with 400 pages.

I really, really do not need ideas for another novel. I got enough on my plate. There is the urban fantasy novel in progress, and bits of planning for a second, more traditional fantasy one. A third one would kill me.

I didn’t throw away the pages, but I am wondering if that happens to other people. Do you get jumped by stories you really don’t have time to write?

Scenes and Little Details

I was rereading a scene in the WiP the other day and I noticed I didn’t include a lot of details about the setting. Just the street, towering buildings and little potted trees.

Okay, yeah, he was just walking down the street, so he wasn’t thinking about the crowds. That’s important, since the WiP is 1st person and crowds aren’t something he’s going to notice.

I know he’s weaving through the crowds, and avoiding the tourists who walk five in a row and take up the whole width of the sidewalk. But it’s not something I mentioned. And now, thinking about it, it could come off as though the sidewalk is empty.

The crowds aren’t important, just one of those little city-setting details.  The crowd plays no role at all; he is more involved with his own thoughts and how it feels more like December instead of October.

When I wrote that scene, I am pretty sure I was thinking most people would automatically picture a street crowded with people and cars. But maybe not. When we arrived in FL last year, the drive from the airport to the hotel was a little scary because it was dark and the highway was empty. Maybe one or two other cars in the distance. It was 8 on a Saturday night. That’s after dark, but not that late, especially on a weekend. And, in all honesty, I have never seen a highway that empty. It was nerve-wracking. But for people who live there, it would be normal.

So now I am wondering, should I mention the crowd? A line on the sounds or smells or feel of a crowded street?

The Anatomy of a Story: I want, therefore I am

Last week, I found a fantastic book on writing: The Anatomy of a Story by John Truby. It’s a keeper (much like King’s On Writing.) I think I first heard about it from an author chat on twitter. It has some of the best analysis of what a story is that I’ve ever read. And I’ve read a lot of books on writing.

The first lines that jump out at me are:

The “story world” doesn’t boil down to “I think, therefore I am” but rather “I want, therefore I am.” Desire in all of its facets is what makes the world go around. It is what propels all conscious, living things and gives them direction. A story tracks what a person wants, what he’ll do to get it and what costs he’ll have to pay along the way.

I’m always ecstatic when a character comes to life in my head. Writing is easy and it feels like I am not writing, just describing the pictures in my head.

I am theorizing that happens because I connect with the character’s desire. In the moment it is real to me, that feeling will come a lot easier.

It makes sense. I mean, a lot of stories are about what character is trying to do, isn’t? Whether that’s to solve a murder or find someone to share their life with. Or, in the case of my MC, find the drug source and keep all hisloved ones safe at the same time.

I am thinking, I need to know my character’s desires, both short-term and long-term. His professional goals (easy! ha! this is the whole story), and a more personal, more emotional desire. To an extent, this is the same (backstory! such bloody, fantastic drama!).

I am not sure if I need other layers. Emotional and/or spiritual desires? I am thinking not. He thinks doesn’t think a love life is possible for him anymore and he’s not really open to it. Family? Hmm. Maybe.

Thing is, I knew almost none of this when I first started writing the novel in progress. I had to backtrack, go forward and back a few times before I figured it out.

How many others know the all the different desires of the character before they start writing?