1. TheHippieFarmer
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    TheHippieFarmer New Member

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    Halfway through first draft...

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by TheHippieFarmer, Mar 30, 2011.

    .. And I've slumped. It's my first attempt at writing a fiction novel after years of poems and short stories, and an idea I've had bouncing around my head for about 2/3 years or so.

    I put it down to a combination of factors (Being stuck on a scene whereby I need an inventive trap set by my main characters, living in hostels and hotels while travelling Vietnam, having a laptop which occasionally refuses to do anything), but the result is I'm not writing. I don't really want to say how long it's been since I've done any meaningful work for a consistent period in case I upset myself, but suffice to say it's been a while. I'll be back in Europe in a stable envioronment in the next couple of weeks, and the setting sounds ideal - I'll be at my girlfriend's family cabin in Norway. No Internet, no TV, no phones, idyllic scenery, fireplace. Just me, my rubbish laptop and three weeks of solitude.

    Problem is, the novel has become such a big tangled weight I'm not sure where to start again with it.

    I'm 60,000 words in. I love the story, I love the characters, and I reckon it could be a good little book once it's done. Problem is I'm terrified of not only self doubt about the finished product, a problem I'm sure is very common to read here (Am I doing the story justice? Am I wasting my time? Am I any good at this anyway?), but also how to jump back in. Do I:

    - Go back and read everything I've already written to get back into the groove? It's an idea, but Stephen King says not to. (That's a half-joke, by the way.)

    - Just plough on, and fix it all up in the second draft? (It's kind my style - I just write in the basics, and then review things such as description, conversational nuance, character details etc when the foundations are laid.)

    - Drop the whole bloody thing, work on something else (Different genre, style, tense, whatever), and come back to it in a few months / years, when I'm more confident as a writer? This is something I don't really want to do in case I never return to it, but it's another option.

    - Something else?

    Any advice / thoughts would be appreciated. :)
     
  2. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    My advice is keep going, don't be scared to write some fluff whilst you work it out - you can always take it out later - I use a story fairy (she zaps my characters to scenes) when I am stuck it is much easier to connect scenes on a later draft.

    I personally then just completely rewrite it - easier than trying to sort the mess out ;)
     
  3. TheHippieFarmer
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    TheHippieFarmer New Member

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    Thanks for the tip - I'm actually a bit stumped as to why I didn't think of that myself. /ashamed

    I do tend to get a little bogged down sometimes, spending too long on a piece of the story that isn't actually that important and / or interesting. Usually with the message 'It'll all work out in the redraft!' in my mind. I guess I need a story fairy of my own!
     
  4. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    you are welcome to borrow Milly lol she is very good.

    Just remember nothing is unfixable some people can look back personally I don't worried I will turn into a pillar of salt ;) Everyone works differently but you are 60K you may only have another 20 or 30K left to go. Even if you are only halfway through seems silly to stop now.
     
  5. jwatson
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    jwatson Active Member

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    I wouldn't feel like it is NOT a waste. Every time that idea pops in my head, I picture a kind of a completion bar you see when downloading something (i.e. 15 % done...20% done...etc) and each and every time I write I figure I am getting closer and closer to increasing a percent on the overall completion of a novel. Is that weird?

    I have experienced what you are experiencing several times. I am right now, as a matter of fact. Usually it is more due to having too much school work to write. Also, I get distracted easily. Writing is a difficult task, even if you like it. And sometimes I go through stretches where I play guitar in my free time, or video games, because I am lazy and inefficient.

    My advice to you is to try your hardest to continue writing, despite how difficult it will be. This little slump you're in is JUST the beginning, trust me. You are going to have to go through many more hardships. The main word you have to remember is PERSEVERANCE. You need to get through the rough patches. It takes time and effort.

    One more thing: try writing really really short stories. Like a page or two long. I do that sometimes, they help me get back to the way I was when I was really excited to just write.
     
  6. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    Never once in the history of fiction writing has a story been unwritable. Writers get stumped, stories don't. So I think you're on the right track to internalize this and try to figure out why you aren't writing (as opposed to a lot of people who try to figure out why a story isn't being written, which is a bit different).

    The bad news, is you're having these struggles. The good news is they're pretty normal. I don't know what exactly will work for you, but I'm pretty sure the solution is internal, figuring out why you aren't writing, being honest with yourself and your work, and then when you are able to write again you'll find the story will still be there.

    Don't beat yourself up over it, though. That might subconsiously be what you're doing, so then you have the excuse that you just aren't good enough or depresed or unmotivated or some other rubbish. If you're written that much already, you're obviously capable of producing works, now you just need to figure yourself out enough to do that.

    edit: wanted to add I don't personally subscribe to the idea of writing something 'easy' or trying a new project. Again, it might be some tough love here, but the problem isn't ever the story or words. Often people get to something they find hard to write (it's not hard, they find it hard, again it's about the writer, not the words), and instead of figuring out why they can't write it and figuring out a way they can, they move on to something different. Don't move on. Stare the manuscript down that's giving you trouble, and hopefully you're realize it's a mirror you're staring into and figure out a way to keep going.

    And we all go through it, pretty much, so you're not alone, if that brings any comfort.
     
  7. AJSmith
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    AJSmith Senior Member

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    I've been going through what you're describing on and off the entire time I've been writing. I'm about 75K in, and some of those words have been very painfully written, while some just fell right from my head.

    I go through moments where my plot and characters don't want to work for me. Then there are other moments like you described where life has just gotten in the way, excusable or not, just the way it is. Worst of all, there are those moments of feeling totally inadequate and wondering what the hell I'm trying to do.

    I will admit that I started this novel almost exactly two years ago, and have gone through periods of several months where I didn't touch it, though it always nagged at me.

    I am far enough in, and love my story enough that all of these obstacles aren't enough to stop me entirely. imagining the day when I have the completed, revised, and edited version of my novel is the driving force for me.

    I'm glad you posted because it is nice to see I'm not alone in these struggles and feelings!
     
  8. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    That is a point have you ticked off your characters in someway ? If I upset Socrates he will disappear for a few days - I tried to put a Swan in a children's book he didn't like that. (Swan is his birdform) - should have experienced him when I tried to write a better looking man lol Had to put both of them on hold whilst I finish this story.

    Are you trying to make them do something they don't want to do or are uncomfortable with ?
     
  9. TheHippieFarmer
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    TheHippieFarmer New Member

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    Cheers for the feedback guys 'n' gals, it's nice to know that I'm not alone in this situation (something I didn't doubt for a moment!), and that there's people willing to give constructive feedback. Helps a lot.

    I think I'm just going to plough through and force out the next few thousand words just to get the ball rolling again. Even if the resulting work is rubbish, at least I'll have gone through the 'big wall' I feel is currently set up high and wide at this point in the story, and hey, that's what rewrites are for, isn't it? :D

    If anyone's interested, I'll post an update here in a few weeks and let people know how it's going. :)
     
  10. TheHippieFarmer
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    TheHippieFarmer New Member

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    Just read that through properly - sorry, bit short on time here (Vietnamese hostel computer share is a bitch!).

    My characters are fine, but I'm worried about ticking off the bad guys - One of my pet peeves is having a threat to the characters which is essentially what I like to term 'cape and hood syndrome'. That is to say, they look the part, all mean and fearsome with bad intentions, but in practice turn out to be entirely ineffectual. Look at Stormtroopers in Star Wars for an example. They certainly look the part, but they're the universe's worst aim and only really work as obstacles as opposed to a tangible danger to the main heroes.

    I'm currently stuck on a situation where I need the good guys to outwit and /or trap a following group, but since a fair portion of the book involves the bad folk's reputation for being, well, people you don't want to mess with, I'm having trouble working out a situation where my story advances and both sides save face.

    It's a pickle, to be sure.
     
  11. JeffS65
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    JeffS65 Contributing Member

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    Yep.

    I feel like what I've been writing is a slow growth process. It just comes when it does. I stop worrying about what and when and write when it happens. If I force it, I know it comes out sounding forced. I let it come from within and that can take time.
     

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