1. DuchessDuchess
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    DuchessDuchess New Member

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    "unfinished chapters" syndrome. any sufferers like me?

    Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by DuchessDuchess, Sep 17, 2015.

    My pc is an infirmary of uncompleted stories. I get excited with an idea, develop a plotline and take to it like a dog with a bone. I write a couple of chapters, and then, I leave it to fester. Then I get hold of another more exciting idea, and I grab a hold of it and—you guessed it—like a dog with a bone AGAIN. I start a fresh new story, only to abandon it after a few chapters too, in favour of a new idea. Occasionally I may return to the old story, [like an unfaithful lover] get excited with it for a few days, but become disinterested once the excitement of the “chase is over.” Don't get me wrong, I love my stories, I really do, all of them, or --well, maybe some of them. We can't love all our relatives equally. I consider my attitude to my writing not unlike that of a snake with a rat--writhing and twisting with it for a few hours before slithering off to hide in a hole, and regurgitating it.

    The problem is, I'm helplessly at the mercy of my own self-inflicted creativity chaos—or ignorance. I've abandoned more plotlines than Taiga Woes has dumped mistresses. Unlike him though, I'm not wealthy enough to escape from my dystopian stasis, and go luxuriating into the some fleshing rehab centre for calm reflections and a burst of inspiration. I am compelled to go to a place of enduring martyrdom called my job—otherwise, I will be the next destitute you read about in the Daily News as the one that fell from grace. I’m lucky I’m not using a typewriter—I’d have been very prodigal with paper. Anyone with some useful advice? I don't want my pc to become a graveyard of unfinished stories. But I am tired, I really am.
     
  2. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    I have the opposite problem. I love writing but I'm not an ideas-person at all. I've only got an inkling of the story I'm going to write when my current novel is finished, and for a while I was panicking because I had no idea what I would write next.

    So, uh, I have no useful advice! Just wanted to say hello :p
     
  3. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have the same problem, but I don't see it as unfinished 'chapters', more abandoned novel attempts. You seem to be describing the same thing, so I'm not quite sure why you class it as unfinished chapters. Anyway, I digress.

    The answer for me (although it remains to be seen if I have, in fact, found the answer, as I'm still to complete so much as a first draft) was planning. I'm not talking about meticulous planning here, with detailed characters profiles and whatnot. I'm talking about nothing more complicated than assigning a sentence or two to seven, specific bullet points.

    It's called the seven-point plot system and having this gives your story direction. It gives you, the writer, a route to follow. Once you've worked out what happens at each of the points, you then join the dots.

    Now I'm not suggesting it's going to be an easy road, but simply knowing where your story is supposed to be heading, really encourages you to stick at it.

    I've posted this elsewhere, but here is the system again.

    1. Hook
    In the hook, the character is in the opposite state from the state they will be in eventually. For example, if they are going to end up strong, start them out weak.

    (Harry Potter lives in a cupboard under the stairs.)

    2. Plot Turn 1
    Something changes that puts things into motion. New ideas, new people, a Call to Adventure or inciting incident, starts the movement from the situation of the Hook to the situation of the Resolution.

    (Harry Potter learns he's a wizard, enters the wizarding world.)

    3. Pinch 1
    Something goes wrong that forces the character to step up and solve a problem.

    (Harry Potter and friends fight the troll.)

    4. Midpoint
    This is the point at which the character moves from reaction to action, decides to move towards the end state (knowingly or otherwise). It doesn't need to be in the middle of the story. In a mystery story, for example, where the midpoint is deciding to take the case, it can come very early on.

    (Harry Potter decides that people who suck blood from unicorns must be opposed.)

    5. Pinch 2
    Something goes very wrong, much more so than in Pinch 1. These are the jaws of defeat from which victory must be grasped. Mentors die or vanish, allies prove unreliable, plans fail.

    (Ron and Hermione fall to the magical traps on the way to the Stone and leave Harry Potter to go on alone.)

    6. Plot Turn 2
    The character receives the last piece needed to create the resolution. "The power is in you!" is a classic Plot Turn 2. Grasping victory from the jaws of defeat.

    (Harry Potter looks in the Mirror of Erised, and because his motives are pure the stone goes into his pocket and he knows that if Voldemort touches him it will harm Voldemort, not him.)

    7. Resolution
    This the climax, what you're leading up to, what the story's about.

    This can be plot or character. For example, the character makes a moral decision and becomes a different person from the person they were when they started. The problem of the plot is resolved.

    This can be a state rather than an action (example of Poe's "The Telltale Heart", where the resolution is that the narrator is insane).

    (Harry Potter defeats Voldemort.)
     
  4. DuchessDuchess
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    DuchessDuchess New Member

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    Thank you Tenderiser and OurJud. First to Tenderiser: your advice, although you may not call it that, is useful. I have completed short stories, which were so enjoyable to write, the stories literelly wrote themselves. Great suggestion there, OurJud. I do call my stories unfinished chapters because, believe me, they really are that. I'm not a perfectionist, but if I'm not completely satisfied with a chapter, I keep going back to tweak things. I am a bit erratic, like that. My current long-suffering novel; which I'm still determined to finish this year, is a victim of my whimsical behaviour. I advance a bit, then I go back to expunge whole paragraphs, changing things here and there. Maybe I have a morbid fascination with deleting things -- as every time I revisit a chapter, I see it with a fresh pair of eyes and alter swathes of it. I change the way I may have structured a sentence, add a word I'm enamoured with and so on. My chapters are never finished - and once I get the central theme for a new one, I'm off. I'm satisfied to leave the old one to simmer, while I tackle the next idea. I'll try your style of discipline and see if I could try not to be so rampant. Thanks guys.
     
  5. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    All you're describing here is an inability NOT to edit as you write. It's nothing unique to you, believe me.

    To get through this, you have to force yourself to write a first ROUGH DRAFT. Or in your case as you seem so concerned with chapters, a first rough chapter.

    Easier said than done - I certainly haven't learned how to do it yet - but this is the answer to finishing a novel in a reasonable amount of time... or even just finishing a novel, full stop. All that editing you keep doing is what subsequent drafts and re-writes are for.
     
  6. pyroglyphian
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    pyroglyphian Member

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    Duchess, your problem - too many ideas - is a nice one to have, particularly if you feel each new idea is more exciting than the last; it demonstrates progress of a kind. I think you highlight that there is a difference between creativity and productivity. Neither is much use without the other.

    Have you considered trying to combine some of your many ideas?... Sometimes when I get several ideas come along in a short space of time, later on, upon reflection, they transpire to be underpinned by a common theme. Like mushrooms spawned over a wide area from one body of mycelium underground, ideas pop up over time from the same region of the subconscious; the ideas overlap in some way visible only in hindsight. Once a connection is established I find I can take the better bits and pieces from each and combine them favourably... sometimes.

    Granted you probably don't want to create a Frankenstein's Monster from your graveyard of work, or - even worse - a camel, but perhaps thoughtful amalgamation might lead towards a grander, more inclusive project which might capture the attention long enough to see it through.

    P.S. Hi, and good luck!
     
  7. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think Duchess needs to clarify what she means when she says she gets better ideas and moves on without finishing the last.

    What's confusing me, Duchess, is your insistence that you can't finish chapters, and yet you say that you write a few chapters then suddenly get a better idea for a story and move on to that. That's not failing to finish chapters, that's abandoning novel/short story attempts.

    It sounds to me like you're confusing 'chapters' with with 'story ideas'.
     

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