1. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    What are your most common novel challenges?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Mallory, Jul 29, 2010.

    What are the most common frustrations when you write? Is it writer's block, character development, etc?

    For me, I'm having some voice issues right now with my writing. When I was in high school, I took AP English Comp classes and was very much in tune with rhetorical devices, emotionally impactful writing w/out being cheesy and the like. In college, I've taken a lot of reporting/journalism classes and written some hard news stories for the local paper, so it's almost like my writer's voice is in that mode right now. Very factual, statement-of-information like in some scenes of my story. Not too bad, just not as gripping as I feel it ought to be.

    This is no biggie, it just requires some editing in certain places.

    Also, weaving in subplots in the right places is kind of a challenge. I've written lots of short stories and tried lots of novels, but this is the first one I have a solid outline for and plan to finish. I'm finding I need to add more characters, and I"m struggling with how to weave in their conflicts and tie them to the MC's.

    What kind of challenges are hardest for you when you plan a novel?

    What things come most naturally for you?

    I'm just curious what people have to say. :cool:
     
  2. BlueWolf
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    BlueWolf Banned

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    The actual story was easy for me (for some unknown reason), but once finished, I discovered little things that you don't (or, I didn't) realize at first, which caused me no end of problems:

    Certain words/names/titles, I had written sometimes differently - 'Sire', instead of 'Sir', was a prime example.
    Cohesion and flow - a character has some object for example, only to find out a page or two later, that he/she went back to get it, when I had already said it was in their hand.
    Times and distances - I did my utmost to get these uniformed (although I am sure I have still made an error or two), when explaining how long it would take to get from A to B.
    New ideas - I'd come up with something new, twenty chapters and several months later, only to forget that I would have to go back near the beginning of the book, to make reference to it, because without it, it wouldn't make sense.
    One character I have, never speaks with shortened words (the term escapes me at the moment for some reason), as in "do not" instead of "don't" - suffice to say, I discovered I had made errors here, too, and that was not fun trying to find them all.
     
  3. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    My greatest challenge is keeping up my interest in all scenes and all stages of the story. Not that I grow bored it just that it need to constantly compete with all other stories in my head, whatever I'm reading at the moment and against my interest in art and crafts as well.

    Weaving the story and creating interesting scenes comes natural for me. I'm used to improvisational mediums where you each second must find a way to make the scene meaningful and interesting and this mindset ans skills really helps me while writing.

    On the other hand one of the big things that make me lose interest in a scene if I don't improvise it and know exactly where it is heading.
     
  4. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Keeping the timeline right is my big one, and remembering what I have called some minor chracters. Leto often became Lita. And I have some others that had similar name changes.

    I am finding writing speeches about grief hard. My biggest challenge though is 3 kids under 7 lol and outside life descending on me mid train of thought.

    And a tendancy to over edit the story when actually it is fine the way it is. Also find I am now getting a bit bored with parts of it because I have been over them so many times.
     
  5. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Finding blocks of time to write is the biggest challenge for me.

    Terry
     
  6. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    My biggest frustration is writing the parts of a story I don't feel any inspiration for, but which must be there to complete the storyline. I know roughly what must happen to set up the characters for the final conflict, but I don't know how to do it well and my inspiration dries out. Often, I finish the ending long before the middle parts.
     
  7. Zieki
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    Zieki Member

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    I struggle with this as well and it usually shows up in my writing. I'll have scenes that really don't have any passion behind them and they turn out to be boring... I have to work on finding a better way to move the story along towards the conflict.

    I also struggle with simply starting writing complete chapters and pages - I tend to write a few pages of one scene, then skip to a few pages of another, then another, and I never go back to connect them. I just write the most interesting scene on my mind at the time...
     
  8. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    I can relate to that one!
     
  9. eliza490
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    eliza490 Member

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    I can come up with ideas for novels easily, but sometimes I have a hard time developing them. That's really frustrating, when I know I have a good idea, but I'm just not sure what to do with it.
    ~Eliza
     
  10. BlueWolf
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    BlueWolf Banned

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    A novel needs more than just an 'idea' - I could come up with hundreds of those, and I imagine most on here (you included) could, too.

    It is the combination of several ideas that interlock and weave in and out of each other - then, you have the basis of a novel.
     
  11. Gammer
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    Gammer Active Member

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    Just translating scenes in my head to paper is my biggest issue. I pretty see all my ideas playing out like a movie Everything is fast and flowing. Then I start to write it and read over it its like:

    "Ew....this isn't at all like I saw it."
     
  12. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    I do the same, although the scenes tend to slowly become connected as the spaces between them are filled in. If I just keep writing, it tends to sort itself out.
     
  13. Shinn
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    Shinn Banned

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    The big thing for me is writer's block; it hits me like a freight train at random times and it feels like I'm beginning to slip.
     
  14. constant scribbler
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    constant scribbler Member

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    the hardest part for me is orginizing my story. The easiest part is creating the characters.
     
  15. BillyxRansom
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    BillyxRansom Active Member

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    Hardest part is command of the language and brevity. That and flow, and to an extent continuity is pretty difficult for me.
     
  16. Loaded-Dice
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    Loaded-Dice Member

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    This for me. I always see my ideas in 3d format, in realtime, as Gammer said, like a movie. Translating that crispness and clarity to paper without losing the polish is tough for me.

    If anyone has overcome this problem... feel free to throw some tips out ;)
     
  17. Musa
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    Musa New Member

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    Hardest part for me is keeping up with one scene long enough without getting boring. I haven't attempted to many novels, but thus far, most of my attempts have ended in me being honest with myself and deciding that the story is too jumpy, skipping around, and not keeping with a steady point. It's really difficult for me to be descriptive and detailed enough to carry out an individual scene to create several pages of writing.

    The story plot and content is easy for me.
     
  18. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    For me it's probably the length more than anything. I'm used to writing shorter pieces, so writing something as large as a novel is tough because of the time and effort it requires.
     
  19. inkslinger
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    inkslinger Contributing Member

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    I relate to a lot of what is posted. Everything from lack of interest in certain scenes to finding time to just sit down and write completely uninterrupted.
     
  20. HeinleinFan
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    HeinleinFan Banned

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    The single hardest part has been getting myself to write. I managed five hours today only by treating it like a job. (I'm in college, and have been ill for some months, so I haven't taken a summer job). I started at noon, brief break at three, kept on til five.

    I have to treat it that way, or my brain finds ways to sabotage me. In particular, I'm an avid reader, and it has taken me far too long to learn that I can't read a good book or look at a blog before I write. No, I have to write my day's worth, then websurf or read. Otherwise I find myself reading "just one more chapter" until the day has been wasted.

    The other thing is believing in my writing. I tend to re-read my previous day's work and cringe -- even if it isn't that bad. I have to stop myself from editing unless the changes are really needed.

    But I haven't finished a novel yet, and have only had one short story accepted by a pro-rate publisher. So I'm no expert.
     
  21. Imo
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    Imo Member

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    I recognize this. I do exactly the same. When I stopped working I promised myself I would finally set aside time to write. If I don't roster in those hours I will find reasons to do something else - anything BUT writing.

    And even if I do sit down and write, I tend to fuss endlessly over details, delaying creation of the next chapter because I can't decide if the word "room" or "chamber" works best in a certain sentence.

    When I do start writing my main trouble lies in the portrayal of emotions. Too much or too litte, too blunt or too subtle; finding middle ground is tricky business.

    Cohesion in details is also something I know I need to keep an eye out for. If I want to use a ring on page 4, it shouldn't just appear magically in that moment, but should either already having been there or have a solid reason for being there (the wedding ring of a married woman).

    I should be writing right now, but eh... you know how it goes!
     
  22. NovaD
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    NovaD New Member

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    I'm having trouble keeping my enthusiasm for my story going right now, because I realised it was far too passive and needed some massive rewrites and redirecting, but now I've had to read and reread the same few chapters so many times I don't really want to work on it. I have a big problem with procrastination anyways, so the longer I go without working on it the harder it is to get back to writing, but I feel very burned out on my current book.
    At the same time characters who will come in in the next few books are showing up in my head, wanting to be played with, so I'm caught between wanting to write them and needing to finish the story that is leading to their introduction.
    I'm also having a little bit of a problem figuring out how to carry the middle of my book. I have a basic notion of what is supposed to be going on but not the specifics - which is frustrating.
     
  23. johnjames
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    johnjames Member

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    My depression and my psycho family, easily!
    I don't write - nor do I want to - "dark" fiction.
    Too cliched, too dull, too done.
    But, when I'm in literally the polar opposite mood to what I'm trying to write, it can get tricky.
    It's very challenging to keep characters speaking witty banter when all I want to do is reach for the nearest bottle of scotch - and I always keep a couple on me, or my flask at least.

    But then, I'm far from the first author to have trouble staying in the right mindset.
     
  24. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    johnjames, maybe you should bite the bullet and write a dark story just to purge yourself of all that stuff. It might be easier to get in a brighter mindset afterwards, so that you can do the work you want to do.
     
  25. johnjames
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    johnjames Member

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    Oh, I rather doubt writing could erase two decades of loathing.
    If anything, it'd make it worse by indulging it.
    Besides which, I wouldn't really know where to begin. Not really my genre.
    I could probably create a dark fantasy, but again, these thoughts really aren't suitable for that sort of thing.
     

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