1. PhilipJLeae
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    PhilipJLeae New Member

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    Hitting a wall

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by PhilipJLeae, Jan 15, 2013.

    So I've been steadily writing this story for about a week and I've finally hit my first major bout of writer's block... awesome. I sit and go over, making notes for when I get to editing, my story trying to think of something but I'm basically bashing my head against a brick wall, trying to make it crumble. It's not working out too well.
    I know it's not a very good idea, but I like to have multiple stories to write on just for this kind of thing. I have a problem though... I'm not going anywhere on any of them. I've decided to just restart. I'm not going to throw out any of the unfinished manuscripts, but I'm going to put them away and come back to them at a later date.
    This being said I have two questions. Are there any techniques you use to expel writer's block? Do you have any generic sort of ideas I could use as a jumping off point for my new story?
    So far, for the three one's I've put in "writing storage" as I call it, I have three very different... plots? I guess that's what they'd be called. The first one is about a ring of serial killers, real light hearted stuff. Um... haha. The second one is a Knight sent on an impossible quest by a corrupt King. The last is a crummy love story, because, as much as I'll always make fun of love stories, I like reading them and they're always interesting to write.
    Any help would be great, thanks.
     
  2. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, I'm one of those who doesn't believe in writer's block. And if you've got three stories you haven't finished, what makes you think starting a new one is going to change anything?

    Take one story and finish it, however lame you think it is. Just finish it. Then set it aside, pick up the next one, and finish it. Then go back to the first and start editing.

    BIC. That's the only thing that's going to change your habit of not finishing.
     
  3. Kat Hawthorne
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    Kat Hawthorne Member

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    It goes without saying, Phillip, that what works for one person will not necessarily work for another. However, since you asked and I am procrastinating, let me tell you what I like to do to get started with a new story:

    First, I write the synopsis. Yes, it can be very vague and very brief, but the point of doing this is to identify the main conflict I will be writing about. I may not have any characters worked out yet, or the setting, or anything else for that matter, but that's ok. That will come later.

    Next, I go about asking myself a bunch of questions. Such as: So, Kat, you want to write a story about a luthier who is so desperate for perfection in his craft, he is willing to do anything to get it. That's great. But... who is this character? Is he really a skilled craftsman, or just some old looney who is living an unachievable dream, therefore destined to be unhappy and die unsatisfied? How will he go about making this one perfect instrument? What will happen when/if he achieves it? Will the technique be different, the building materials? And so on.

    Then, I answer them all: The luthier is an old man, jaded after years of failures. Yes, he is skilled, but no more than any other luthiers around. He is a bit looney, but only because he is so desperate for perfection. He knows he has to do something drastic to achieve his goals - he will murder a prima donna and use her vocal apparatus to string the instrument, therefore "trapping" her perfect voice within the instrument. He will revel in his glory when he achieves his goal, then likely die, because he's old.

    And there you have the very basic bones of a story. Now all that is left is to fill in the gaps, and write the thing.

    Here's how you could do your "Knight" story using my technique: Who is this knight? Why does he want success? What motivates him to try, even though his assignment is "impossible"? Why does the king send him on the journey in the first place? What is he seeking? What will happen when he fails/succeeds? Why is the king corrupt (what happened, and is it relevant to the plot?)? And so on.

    And now, you answer the questions.

    I don't know if that is at all helpful, but typing it out wasted a good ten minutes for me, so I have been successful in my procrastination. And now, back to work.

    Good luck
     
  4. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    Based upon your post, you don't really have plots or stories in storage. What you've got are vague ideas for a story, and without jumping in and developing the characters, you've got nothing.

    I'm of the school of thought that good writing is first and foremost about characters. So, if you've really run into a wall as far as the momentum of your story, do some character building exercises and get to to know them better. They're the ones who will really be driving your story -- especially if you want to write something that would even remotely be considered a romance. Put two of your characters together and see what they say and do. Figure out what your character did on a typical day when he was in college. What was your character's first job -- how did he get it and how did he feel about it? What happened the last time your character went on a date? What was it like? What happened? Who was it with? Is she still with that guy? Why or why not?

    In your ring of serial killers -- which is very unusual, BTW, as they're usually solo-artists, take one of them and see what he did on his first kill. How did your ring of serial killers get together? What is their common purpose (obviously, killing, but why together?) What do two serial killers talk about when they have lunch together? Or do they never see each other except when they're out on a hunt? And if that's the case, how do they coordinate?

    What's a corrupt king? A king is a monarch, ruling as he pleases. In what way would he be corrupt? He could be masochistic, narcissistic, perverted, deviant, and derive pleasure from watching the suffering of others, but 'corrupt' implies some sort of improper action, especially related to an abuse of office or public trust in exchange for monetary or other gain -- there wouldn't be some sort of hidden monetary gain or abuse of office in the case of a king, so I'm not sure "corrupt" is the right adjective. Assuming you mean a king who simply delights in watching his subjects engaging in futile acts, after which they'll be presumably killed, (the king therefore being an 'evil' king), I assume your story is following the knight actually accomplishing the task that was intended to be attempted, but not achieved. What is this act? How did the king become so psychologically damaged? How did the knight get into this postion? What did he think about it? What does his family think about it? is there some method of escape? Why doesn't he choose to do that?

    There are all kinds of portions of your stories that you could develop through writing scenes. That should help with the writer's block.
     
  5. PhilipJLeae
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    PhilipJLeae New Member

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    Corrupt, as in, someone has gotten into his mind and is pulling the strings of the Kingdom. He's been corrupted with the promise of power over all humankind and is now doing anything to stop the Knight who could put an abrupt halt to the person who's promised said power. Would that be corrupt? (I'm really not sure now! Haha, that's not me being sarcastic, it's a genuine question.)

    As for the other help (which really does help!) uh, basically, the serial killer thing I wanted to do because it was unusual and hasn't been done before, if at all. Thank you for your post, by the way
     
  6. PaulKemp24
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    PaulKemp24 Member

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    If you have a habit of not finishing anything and you have three unfinished pieces in "writing storage" than I think the last thing you should do is start a new project from scratch. I would decide which of those three pieces is the most promising -- the one with the best legs, the one you enjoy the most or even just the one that's closest to the finish line -- and go with it. Maybe even combine two of them -- take the love story and insert it into the story about the knight. That romance is now the knight's romance. That will give the knight story some more depth with another character and another subplot and might get the ball rolling for you.
     
  7. joanna
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    joanna Active Member

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    I don't see anything wrong with starting stories and never finishing them. I do it all the time. Sometimes I begin a story knowing I'll never finish it. I consider it practice. I'm just warming up until I get to (or get back to) the story I really want to write, and will finish. If you've never finished anything, and really want to, maybe this is a chronic problem; but not finishing these stories isn't necessarily a problem.

    When I first started writing, I started a lot of stories and realized something wasn't right about them and cast them aside. I realized later that I had to do this in order to discover the stories I really was passionate about. Those stories will propel you to the end, kind of taking on a life of their own. I think of these stories and characters as more "real" than the lifeless ones I dumped. They already exist; I just have to get them down. The characters just need me to record what happened.

    Maybe these three stories you started don't have this existential quality... or maybe they do, and you're going to discover it. What I do is listen to my characters. It sounds crazy, I know, but they really have a lot to say.
     
  8. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I suppose you could use the word "corrupt" if the king had been formerly a good king (or the previous king had been good), ruling with the good of his kingdom foremost in mind, although it's not really important. Your answer has raised a more important question, namely: What does it mean that "someone has gotten into his mind and is pulling the strings of the Kingdom?" Is this some sort of mind control? Is magic or some sort of other- or super-worldly power involved? Or is it that he's been convinced or brainwashed by someone who really wants all this power for himself?

    I am curious, given your initial post, what you really feel passionate about as far as writing? Are you writing in a fantasy world? Historical? Contemporary? My initial impression, when you mentioned serial killers and romance, was contemporary, where as a Kingdom would either be historical or take place a long time ago, or would be a fantasy scenario. But it's possible to have a romance in any time period, as well as a serial killer story, so I'm not sure why a contemporary time period came to my mind.

    Don't be tempted into writing something just because you perceive that it is unusual and hasn't been done before. Anything you write hasn't been done before, because your characters will be unique. Write about what really interests you, and what you know or you want to want to seriously research. I think there's a possibility you're at a standstill because you aren't writing about what you know most and is nearest and dearest to your heart. I could be wrong. But it's something to consider. I know I've had a bunch of ideas that I think are intriguing, and if someone wrote a book with one of those particular premises, I'd be very interested to read it, but in the end, they weren't stories that I really had a passion for, or sufficient knowledge about and the desire and resources necessary to do the research that would be required to write the story well.
     
  9. PhilipJLeae
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    PhilipJLeae New Member

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    I like writing in a fantasy world, where I can completely re-invent the rules of physics. Also, what would Contemporary mean?
     
  10. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I just meant stories that would take place more or less in the present day.
     

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