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  1. ChaseTheSun

    ChaseTheSun Senior Member

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    When you get bored with your WIP

    Discussion in 'Insights & Inspiration' started by ChaseTheSun, Feb 9, 2017.

    I'm sure there must be lots of threads on this topic already, but I did a keyword search and couldn't find anything within the last year or so. I'm hoping somebody can give me feedback/ideas/commiserations on the problem of realising one has grown bored/uninspired by one's current project.

    This is my first novel. I've worked tirelessly at it for 13 months, planning everything, researching historical contexts, filling in Freytag's pyramid and completing 8-page character profiles for my two POV protagonists ...

    And now the best I seem to be able to do is write separate, unconnected chunks of prose. All up, I've got 9,000 words... but those 9,000 are in 2-3 page sections that are fragmented across the entire scope of the novel. How to fill in all the gaps between those chunks of 500-1000 words? I've been writing short stories for the last ten years, and 500-3000 words is my 'safe place', my comfort zone. Which explains why I'm writing in deconstructed sections. Does anybody have any advice or ideas to help me transition from 'short story' mode to 'I can face the idea of writing 80,000 words without freaking out' mode? I don't know if I'm so much bored as just overwhelmed?

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. Silent Lion

    Silent Lion Member

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    I wouldn't feel bad about writing different disconnected chunks to begin with. You've got to write what you're inspired to write at the time. Eventually of course you're faced with writing sections you don't feel particularly enthused about, I get that. My advice would be to target a section you're not keen on writing, and take a couple of days out to get into it. Carry a little notebook with you. If you're feeling up to it, watch a movie or listen to some music that might capture the atmosphere you want. Write quotes or draw pictures if that's your thing. Imagine yourself in the scene when you're walking around doing your daily this-n-thats. Just give yourself some time and space, and when you're ready and in the 'zone' for that section, write it.
     
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  3. Phil Mitchell

    Phil Mitchell Contributing Member

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    This may come across as harsh, but if you're bored it's a surefire sign the story is badly lagging and needs an excitement injection stat. Alot of writers get into elaborate worldbuilding, theme, rules, profiles, morality but forget to be...ENTERTAINING! The narrative should feel lively at all times. Seriously as far as I'm concerned getting bored is the most severe warning you can get as a writer. Because at least when the work frustrates, or ticks you off or makes you freak out, it's still exciting enough that you're desperate to move forward but just don't know how. Bored? That's when you need to be the most alarmed and working the most feverishly to correct it, lest your boredom becomes chronic.
     
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  4. ChaseTheSun

    ChaseTheSun Senior Member

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    Yep. I agree. But how? That's my question.
     
  5. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Contributing Member

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    Sounds like you need some narrative summary. That's the crap that happens between all the scenes you came up with in your outline. They're like the connective tissue that holds everything together. It's tough to tell without seeing it, but it sounds like your outline painted you into a corner. Like you're teleporting from New York to Philly to Chicago to St. Louis to Houston without bothering to travel on any of the roads between them. That's where the extra 50k words or so come from. 500 to 1000 word chunks sound really short to me. I'm not seeing how you could fit even a brief scene into that without any setup, context or transition. Is there any interior monologue or narration? Or is it mostly dialogue?
     
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  6. Phil Mitchell

    Phil Mitchell Contributing Member

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    I think in your case you've written so much in the character profile you haven't got much left to discover about the characters in the actual narrative.
     
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  7. ChaseTheSun

    ChaseTheSun Senior Member

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    You're right, the sections are mostly dialogue, with a bit of interior monologue/narration. And you nailed it when you gave the travel analogy. I just never realised how hard it would be to transition from writing short stories to writing a longer piece. If I spend longer than about fifty words describing something, I panic that I'm being verbose and I move on to the next thing.

    I love the idea of my story. I'm fascinated by the themes and excited to explore the conflicts. For comfort's sake, I wish that I could simply write it in a series of short stories. But I don't want to stay in my comfort zone. I know that this story is meant to be a full length novel. I'm just a bit overwhelmed by the prospect.

    I think I've realised that I'm not so much bored as I am overwhelmed.

    Obviously I can parrot off plenty of great advice to myself: "Just start somewhere," and "It's okay to write shit - at least you're writing," and "First draft is allowed to be bad - that's why you revise to make it better"... but it doesn't seem to be helping!

    Actually the characters are my favourite things about the story. They are just real enough to me to be familiar and believable, but have remained mysterious enough for me to enjoy discovering more about them as I go. My problem is the narrative: how much is too much or not enough? How many sub-plots am I meant to have? How do I construct the POV switches? How do I span the story over 15 years without losing the interest of readers? How much detail do I go into to describe setting? How do I make every single scene and conversation important plot-drivers?

    I'm so used to paring things back to the bare basics, showing and not telling just enough to paint an impression without laying everything at the reader's feet. I don't know how to flesh it out.
     
  8. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Contributing Member

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    This is an excellent point by @Phil Mitchell and a very common ailment. If you the writer are not surprised by your characters here and there than neither will the readers. You can manufacture a plot twist but you can't fudge a surprise. Outlines and character profiles are great but they're not good for much more than the broad strokes in my opinion. There are many successful, excellent writers that outline everything before they write a word but it's never worked for me. Everything sounded forced and stilted and I never understood my characters. I would want to throw them in a different direction but I couldn't because the outline had other plans. You're right about the short stories vs. novels thing too. They really have nothing in common other than the medium by which they move. It's like (here comes the Homer analogy!) boats and water. Sure a canoe and a deep ocean skiff are both boats. And yeah, a lake and the Pacific Ocean are both made of water that keep the boats from sinking. The same rules and physics apply to both, but they're two different journeys. Not my best analogy but you get the idea.
     
  9. Phil Mitchell

    Phil Mitchell Contributing Member

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    Err on the side of too much. You can cut it down in editing.

    Subplots come organically out of the writing. There's no such thing as a subplot quota.

    You certainly don't stick with a pov until it gets boring. get out early.

    By jumping ahead in time while retaining enough familiarity to keep the flow and continuity.

    As much detail as you're comfortable with. If too little or alot of setting bores than don't write it. And important plot drivers? You figure that out in editing. No one writes only important plot drivers while they're writing. Some things will and should hit the cutting room floor.
     
  10. MarcT

    MarcT Active Member

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    If I were to become bogged down and bored with a project, I'd abandon it temporarily and let it sleep in a drawer for a while. What's the point in banging your head on it if the spark isn't there?
    Meanwhile, I'd start a new project immediately, something, anything, where the words flow with very little effort. A theme that interests you and restores your confidence which, let's face it, is the one aspect that needs to be fed.
    Above all, keep writing.
     
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  11. ChaseTheSun

    ChaseTheSun Senior Member

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    I like your analogy. :) I don't feel that the characters are the problem. I feel quite happy with the balance of candor/enigma of who my characters are. It's just everything else - the plot, setting, narrative voice, etc. Haha.

    Phew. So much of the writing advice I've read/listened to says we must ensure that every single thing we write must be important to drive the story forward ... that's a lot of pressure ... does that mean my characters can't discuss anything mundane/daily/normal, because it doesn't impact the plot on a whole? But my characters don't live fast-paced, intense, whirlwind lives where every single conversation has a loaded significance with a purpose to foreshadow some larger event or theme. Sometimes they need to just sit back, put up their feet and talk about what style tea they like best. Don't they?

    Hmm. A few people have said that to me, now. Perhaps I will take up a mistress for a few days. Maybe my main project will get jealous my attentions are elsewhere, and pull out all the stops to seduce me back into her thrall. ;)

    Thanks, everybody, for your thoughts/ideas/encouragement. I took a day off to let the story just percolate in the back of my mind without putting pressure on myself to actually sit down and produce anything. I think just those few hours of distance helped me gain some perspective and I'm ready to have back at it, again. I'm not very good at bearing any kind of discomfort on my own; my first instinct is to reach out and demand that somebody - anybody! - recognise my pain and assuage it/solve it/validate it... Obviously, though, this is something that only I can resolve. So, come tomorrow (eep, today. It's 1:50am. Where did the night go?!) I will sit back down and try to tackle the beast from a different angle. Here's to the inspiration to be found in a bottle of wine, ambient tunes and sleep deprivation!
     
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  12. TheeFreakShowee

    TheeFreakShowee Member

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    See you already got plenty of advice, but here's two cents:

    Here's an idea for when the "boredom" issue rolls around; drop the project, and work on a different one. Can be either an existing story you've worked on before, or a brand new one. Set to that for as long as you need to; days, weeks, etc, until your inspiration for your main novel returns, and then jump right back on it. It's okay to deviate from your main project now and then; when you come back, it'll be nice and fresh. :) Of course, you might also want to reread the last few bits you wrote for it when you do get back to it, to help get the wheel turning.
     
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