1. CyberFD
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    CyberFD Member

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    Getting stuck writing what you know

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by CyberFD, Jul 13, 2013.

    For the entirety of my currently 15k word novel-in-progress, excluding probably the middle of the first chapter, I was flying blind. I knew where I was headed but I hadn't the slightest idea of how to get there. In the time it's taken me to get to this pivotal scene, I introduced a character that I wasn't going to introduce until nearly the end. I generated important scenes that I'd never dreamed of until they were written. I also introduced a character that didn't exist until the second his name was entered on Microsoft Word. The writing has just... flowed out of me, you could say. However, now I'm at that pivotal point in the story where I know exactly what's going on. The question I pose is this: Why is it harder to write this part? Does anyone else struggle with this?
     
  2. prettyprettyprettygood
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    prettyprettyprettygood Active Member

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    Perhaps with all the changes you've made, this pivotal scene doesn't quite work anymore? You could try carrying on as you have done, forgetting what you have planned and see where you end up. You can always scrap it and go back to the pivotal scene if it turns out rubbish :p

    As for my own experience, I like a skeleton outline but I definitely find it easier to write when I don't know exactly what's going on... I think it's because I don't agonise over individual words/phrases as much when I'm making the whole lot up off the top of my head, and the whole thing just ends up flowing better. Everybody is different though.
     
  3. maskedhero
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    maskedhero Active Member

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    I had a pivotal, painful, awful, and defining moment in mind, nearly from the start, when I crafted the story I'm currently working on. As I approached this scene, I knew I wanted to get it right. I still haven't done the edit on it, but I was apprehensive. It was harder to write than any other, mostly because I wanted to nail it.

    Sometimes those moments are just harder.
     
  4. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, I certainly do. You want so much to get it right, to get the emotional tone right, to get the slant right. I guess there isn't any way to do it, but just to grit your teeth and do it. And then edit like crazy, after the rest of the story unfolds.

    I'm struggling a bit right now with the story I'm writing, because, unlike my first novel, the structure is more pre-planned. However, the writing itself is also more like painting by numbers, filling in the blanks, etc. I need to recapture the enthusiasm that came from not knowing where my story was going to end up or exactly how I was going to get it there. Planning, versus creative flow? Still haven't achieved the balance.

    Good luck to you!
     
  5. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    To me the balance comes from a... connect the dots -type of a thing: you have scenes / ideas in your head that you want to do, but you don't have every single "why" or "how" yet. A bad example but an example nonetheless: you want to start with a sex scene, then you want to have a chase, and wrap it up with an epic battle in the end. To me, the enthusiasm comes from the unknown between these scenes, from creating the links between the scenes or ideas on the go. Of course sometimes I have them mapped out as well, but often it's like having parts 1, 3, and 5 planned, and I have to create parts 2 and 4 on the go.

    Of course this results in a lot of trial and error and sometimes you end up doing a ton of revision to get it right, but even that's just a part of the fun. For instance, I wanted my MC to end up on a crazy solo mission in an abandoned space station, so while I wrote the story with KaTrian, we planned / tried out several different things, like different orders (the MC is a space ranger, so she takes orders from her commanding officer) that we had to justify, so we had to figure out why she would be sent there alone, why her CO had been told to send her there in the first place, and what consequences would the mission have.

    Another thing we do is that we have the whole thing planned, but even then it's just the skeleton of the story. The excitement, the sense of exploration comes from fleshing out the whole thing because, like De Niro said in Ronin, "the map is not the territory" before he heads out to check out the area on the map in person. Sometimes the story follows our plans, sometimes the parts we create to link the pre-planned ideas take the story in an entirely new direction, so while it's a lot of work, this method can lead to some very happy accidents.
     
  6. Steve Day
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    Steve Day Senior Member

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    However, now I'm at that pivotal point in the story where I know exactly what's going on.

    Before that point was reached the words 'just. . . flowed'. That is because you were having fun, vamping, and now you have some serious work to do!
    But, it is not serious until it it is in bound galleys. So be playful with the scene, write it from different points of view, try letting each character write the scene in the First Person.
    "Writing" should be called REwriting, because most 100,000 word novels were whittled down from half a million.

    (Speculative Fiction gurus: Where do all those deleted words go? Do they mate with others? Does Stephen King have the keys to that kingdom? Inquiring minds want to know. . .)
     
  7. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    When I get to moments like this, it's exactly because I know what's going to happen - the adventure, the questions, the curiosity is gone. I'm just dictating what's been played over in my head a hundred times.

    BORING.

    Sometimes I just make myself a challenge to not let my personal boredom with the dictation destroy the scene/chapter/section. Other times, I look at what I've written, and allow myself to consider taking another route entirely. I put that known section aside, possibly temporarily, probably for another story, and see what happens without it. But this is exactly why I don't outline. It just kills the story for me.
     
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  8. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Same here.
     
  9. Kita
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    Kita Senior Member

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    I would usually start a story knowing where my character begins and where I want them to end up with maybe one or two plot twists in mind but apart from that I have no planning and it makes things a lot easier for me. I used to plan out stories and agonise over details but then I'd always find myself stuck and losing interest which has left many of them unfinished. It's always more fun to just make it up as you go!
     
  10. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I get the whole idea, posited above, that when the writing "just flows", it's the most fun, feels the most productive, etc. Having experienced it, I agree...to a point. I find that oftentimes, it is those very passages that require the greatest amount of non-SPaG editing later on. Just because it feels good doesn't mean it produces the best writing.

    A lot of it depends on what you are writing.

    I wrote an entire novel this way, no planning at all. When I started it, I was writing as therapy to deal with a situation I had been in that I had found very upsetting. After a short period of time, it had worked, and the project morphed into novel attempt. But I was still just going with the flow. When I finished it, I took my usual six week break and then started editing. I was horrified. Fully 50% of it was backstory that I didn't need at all. I ripped most of it out and started rewriting whole sections, still without a plan. I got frustrated with that, stopped, sat myself down and forced myself to confront the basic question: what the hell was I actually trying to do, here? When I couldn't answer that question definitively, I admitted that the project had lost forward momentum and I shelved it. The good news is that shortly after, I turned to my current project, about which I am still just as excited as I was when I started writing it over a year ago.

    [MENTION=54807]CyberFD[/MENTION] - I haven't forgotten your original question. The answer is that writing what you originally had in mind IS difficult, because of the subtle changes that occur to it as you are writing - your characters grow, new ideas occur to you, new knowledge is discovered. Be flexible. I've added three chapters to my original chapter outline and completely rewritten another because I was three quarters of the way through when I realized I had written it from the wrong character's POV. Don't be afraid to take a break from the writing if you need some time to sort things out in your own mind. The biggest problem with going with the flow is that it creates the illusion that writing should be that easy. It isn't. Crafting a story that others will want to read takes hard work. You have to craft all the things the reader will simply get to discover as (s)he reads.

    Good luck.
     

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