1. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    The path has petered out

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Wreybies, Aug 5, 2008.

    As so often happens with stories I am working on, I have an engine full of steam for maybe seven, eight chapters, and then….. the path thins…. and I’m lost.

    Any idea how many stories I have like this on my hard drive? Lots. :(

    What do you do when your story has lost its way?

    This time around, I have tried to keep at writing by trying a different discipline. Poetry. Goodness knows I’m no poet, but I didn’t want to stop writing altogether just because I lost the thread to my story. Poetry is a different kind of discipline. A different set of muscles to stretch, so to speak.

    Does this sound like a good plan of attack?
     
  2. Chef Dave
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    Chef Dave Member

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    Have you heard the adage, you can't flog a dead horse?

    Novice writers sometimes spend an inordinate amount of time trying to revive a story that just won't work. Sometimes you just have to walk away.

    I also believe in the adage, write what you know.

    Without knowing your story idea, it could be that you simply need more information. A possible solution to this problem would be to identify problems with your story and conduct research.

    For example ... how can you write a detective murder mystery if you don't know anything about forensics and police investigating procedures? How can you describe a battle scene featuring armored knights if you don't know anything about armor or the training and use of medieval weapons?
     
  3. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Wreybies,
    What do you mean by lost? That you have no idea where to go from there (chapter 8)?

    I guess I need more information. Do you mean you do not know how to get to the next plot point or event? The plot (action or events) is unraveling or cannot be supported? You don't know what's going to happen next and can't come up with an idea? Do you know how your novel is supposed to end? Do you know major events to get from the beginning to the end?

    For me, knowing where the action begins, and the ending, and then major plot points (events/actions--whatever you want to call them) helps me keep on track and complete a project (be it novel or short story) without getting stuck or fizzling out--getting lost.

    Will events change a bit as writing occurs? Yes. The ending might even alter a bit. And upon revision, I may decide that the story should start at a different point, but there is enought to connect the dots from beginning to end.

    Guess I'm not directly answering question.

    Terry
     
  4. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 Contributing Member

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    When my stories lose their way I usually end up introducing an element I hadn't really planned on before. I imagine this doesn't work for everyone, especially those who plot their stories out ahead of time, but for me it tends to work. I'm doing it right now in fact. I'm rather stuck in my story and have been avoiding it somewhat for that very reason. I know where it has to get, but not how to get it there! Maybe in my case the problem is it's finally time to reach a certain point but I don't want it to feel rushed. *shrug*

    Poetry wouldn't help me since I can't write poetry worth anything, but if it helps you, then go for it. At least it's some form of writing, as you said. But eventually you'll have to decide what to do with the story itself. Don't let the poetry end up becoming just a distraction from the bigger issue.
     
  5. Gone Wishing
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    Gone Wishing Contributing Member

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    For me, it isn't so much as not knowing where to go next as it is ceasing to be inspired and therefore motivated to continue. I suppose that you could say I write very character driven stories, and a lot of my plot development comes from taking the character out of their comfort zone for some one on one 'exploration' (for lack of a better term). It might sound a little bizarre, but I really just like to walk alongside them and see where they end up - and this stuff usually just comes in the form of freestyle brainstorming that probably a) won't make sense to anyone else and b) rarely ends up in the story itself.

    It helps me to get a clearer idea of who the characters are, what they're likely to do, and what would be interesting to see them do... And it also helps to remind me why I was so enthusiastic about writing their original story.

    The other thing is knowing where and when to end things. Sometimes, no matter how excited I am about a project, or how much I've come to like particular characters and stories, there comes a point in time where they've done all they can do and to push it any further would actually undermine and/or demean the whole story, if you know what I mean. :/

    If something still feels unfinished, I read through and revise until I've figured out the questions I think a reader would be left asking, then I'll use the above brainstorming method to try and tease out the subsequent plot lines/end to the story...

    Hope that helps in some way!
     
  6. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    Wrey,

    Are your stories challenging enough to keep your interest?

    Perhaps if you complicated your story line or selected a more difficult writing style then your interest would hold longer.

    Also, spend some time editing the back story and let your imagination create some new opportunities for "discovery" as your story unfolds.

    I get bored very easily, being an ADD kid who grew into an ADD adult. All my stories tend to incorporate parallel story lines to keep me interested. This writing style forces me to coordinate time lines . . . not only for the main stories but also for the back stories.

    I'm not suggesting that you do what I do, only that you consider ways to make your story more challenging to write. Of course, if you don't like challenge, then my advice is moot. LOL
     
  7. ParanormalWriter
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    ParanormalWriter Contributing Member

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    Usually when a story of mine runs out of steam, it seems to help if I sit down and do some planning ahead. Sometimes that means writing a detailed outline. More often, I just lie awake in bed that night and try to visualize what will happen in the next few scenes.
     
  8. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    This is what I have come to as well. I realized that I didn't have a very full compliment of charecters. Not many background people, no extras that might come into play later on as more prominent charecters. So, that is where I am going with my story. :rolleyes:
     
  9. CDRW
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    CDRW Contributing Member Contributor

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    That's really good. I have trouble keeping interested in a story also, so this might work really well for me.
     
  10. gigantes
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    gigantes Banned

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    this topic makes me wonder how many successfully published writers create the skeleton structure first and then fill in the details versus how many have merely a general idea and just jump in and go for it.

    it seems like the latter group could borrow from the former group when they get stuck, specifically in terms of sitting down and having a good think about where everything will lead, ie plotting the rest of the work out with as much detail as possible... which would hopefully interject new life into the venture.

    one other thing that occurs is gone wishing's approach, ie interjecting so much life into the characters that they write the story themselves.

    one last idea would be to co-write, such that you pass the work off to someone else to let them work on it for a bit. lennon-mccartney wrote a lot of good songs that way but i'm not sure how well that would work for writing. :p

    of course, you can also collaborate with another person in the sense that if you drop a story and erase it from your mind as much as possible, you can come back to it later and you won't be the same person you were before... which may may give you a whole new set of ideas about where to take the work. that works for me a lot with crossword puzzles and my short pieces. for computer programming it's a complete disaster, tho. :D
     
  11. inkslinger
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    inkslinger Contributing Member

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    I really like the advice NaCl has given, particularly because this thread topic directly applies to me also, lol. I am definitely going to keep that in mind the next time (and there will be a next time) I run out of steam while working on a novel. I know I'll need it, I just started serious work on one recently, and I'm afraid I'll just eventually give up on it when the going gets tough. Thank you for the brilliant post full of good ideas, NaCl. ;)
     
  12. Ungood
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    Ungood Contributing Member

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    Well this might not work for everyone, but I personally.

    Drink heavy amounts of booze, smoke an astounding amount of cigarette's, look at porn, lots porn, porn so bad I have to be blitz out of mind and my eyes covered with a film of tar for me to look.

    Then after a few days of that, the problem clears up and I can write again.

    Sadly I have recently quite drinking, smoking and thus stopped looking at weird porn, and I can't write for my life.
     
  13. gigantes
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    gigantes Banned

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    that's interesting. what manner of work do you produce under these influences?
     
  14. Last1Left
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    Last1Left Active Member

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    You know that box next to the Wendy's?
    Probably the most twisted erotica ever conceived by man.
     
  15. Nilfiry
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    Nilfiry Contributing Member

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    ^^^^ Well wouldn't you like to see that.

    I never have problems of my stories losing their way. My only problem is that sometimes I suddenly don't feel like writing anymore and take a break until i sudden feel like writing again.
     
  16. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    When I don't know what to write, I often switch to working on another story, and when I switch back after a day or two, I usually get a few fresh ideas. I have two or three stories I try to focus on.

    Sometimes it also helps if another person finds the flaws in my writing. For example, if someone points out one of my characters lacks motivation, I have to make up a motivation and fit it in. And that may have quite large implications for the rest of the story, so I have to make other additions and changes, which gives me ideas on how to move it forward. Perhaps that small detail you overlooked will grow and eventually make up a third of your story, plus provide additional difficulties for your characters to overcome.

    I don't plan my stories in detail, but I try to follow the advice that a writer once gave when she held a talk at my school. She said that the most important part of a story, the part that should be clear in your mind when you start writing, is the ending. If you know how your story will end, it will guide your writing in the right direction.
     

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