Thursday, March 31, 2011

Stumbling Blocks

I ran into a huge stumbling block on my WIP. I've been writing this book for two years now. It's never taken me that long to write anything before. So why this time.  Very simple. I'm what writers call a panster - I write by the seat of my pants. I sit down with an idea. I know pretty much how the story is going to start and how I want it to end. What happens in the middle is as much as surprise to me as it is to the reader. So why the problem?  At one of my local chapter of RWA meetings, the speaker (a plotter) strongly urged us to plot out our story and write a synopsis before we started writing.
I thought, what the heck. It couldn't hurt, right? I mean seriously, what was the big deal. I'd never tried it before and figured I had nothing to lose.
WRONG - I wrote out a plot - probably not as much as a plotter would do, but for me a lot and then I wrote the synopsis. Easy. Wow why didn't I think of this before. And then I started writing. Oh, I wrote out my characters worksheet too - that's something I always do. I want to know my hero and heroine backwards, forwards and inside out before I start writing.
So, I sat down and started writing. Not too bad at first, but then I hit a brick wall. I had no idea how to move the story along to the next conflict. My characters wouldn't talk to me and that was that. Blocked.
I stayed blocked for over a year.
Now when I get blocked on one thing, I move on to something else. I'm always writing. Often I'll start something else and things will click and I go back to the story I was working on. Sometimes I brainstorm. But I couldn't think of a thing to say about that story. So I revised some of my old works and submitted them and then moved on to the next. I opened the screen on the WIP and just sat and stared at it. Not one idea hit me.All I could see was the plot and synopsis and still couldn't figure out how to move the story along.
Finally, after about a year and a half, I was emailing my writing buddy and explaining how frustrated I was with this story. I started saying what if, what if I did this or maybe I should do that and next thing you know the plot and synopsis were out the window and the story took a whole new direction. 
So for me plotting doesn't work and I'll never plot out a story again. Don't let someone talk you into it. Write the way it's comfortable for you. No way is right for everyone. I'm still working on that story and hope to have it done soon.

9 comments:

Viviane Brentanos said...

Thank you for sharing this, Roseanne. While I appreciate writing tips every now and again, I must admit, lately, I have become a little peeved. If I had to listen to every article I read on how to, how not to...I would shoot muself. I often wonder how I ever got pubbed in the first instance. I seem to be making a catialogue of mistakes, according to the 'experts ' who - let's face it, are only writers like you and I. What works for one, does not work for another. So, I remain true to myself, my vision, my methods and my storiesd. if someone elsde appreciates them along the way, it's a plus.As for the block, I think we have all been there. I recently finished a wip that I stared at for months and then, one day, whoosh, it all fell into palce. It will come.

Viv

Charlie said...

You go girl! I'm the exact same way. I've been in a slump and mine was for the same reason as you were saying. I was trying to force my writing style to match what others said I needed to do. But you can't fit a square peg into a round hole! So, it's so wonderful and refreshing to find another writer out there that writes the same way I do. It's not wrong. It's just different! Thanks for sharing.
C.K. Volnek

Karen Cote said...

I am so like you, Ro. I tried that too under someone else's instruction and I blocked. An author I read bunches of told me MY problem because she's the same way. When we know the end of the story, the excitement of where it's going dies and we lose interest.

That's it for me and this is a great post. Thank you for sharing!

Love ya.

Janie Franz said...

I'm facing a block myself, Roseanne. But it's more of a distraction block. I have been on the road traveling for the past two and a half months and I just can't settle down (in my mind) enough to write a coherent paragraph. I can do journalism. I can do emails and blog posts. But no fiction....Sigh. I'm hoping pure quiet, a great view, and time will allow me to finish this book I've got in my head...

Thanks for sharing your stumbling block and how you overcame it. Talking it out sometimes is the best way!

Ginger Simpson said...

Another thing you and I have in common. I'm stuck on Chapter Six of Hattie's Hero. I, too, am a pantser, and when my characters don't speak, I don't type. I took a hiatus from my critique group because I didn't have another chapter to submit, and I'm still waiting for Hattie to talk to me. I've had other characters go silent for a time, but this is the first one that has remained mute for months. I have so many releases, maybe that's the problem. I need to focus my energy in one place, but I don't know how to do that. :(

ging

Roseanne Dowell said...

It's nice to see so many people who write like me. I often know how the story will end, but I have on occasion changed that too. The characters speak to me.
Ginger, I often write scenes out of sequence. I have three scenes written that I'll insert in my WIP. I wrote them when I was stuck and it wasn't time for them. I like to write angry scenes when I'm angry or upset about something. The real emotion comes out and it helps get the anger out.

Penny Ehrenkranz said...

Roseanne, thank you for sharing your trials as a writer. I, too, am a panster and hate to write outlines. I jot down a few things about my story and what I'd like to see happen and that's about it. Letting my characters talk to me the way yours do, seems to work best for me, too.

Pat McDermott said...

Good luck with that story, Roseanne! There is no one way or right way to write. The process is personal, and as long as the story progresses, a writer is writing. For me, half the fun is seeing where a story goes as I'm writing it. I may know how it will end, but often I have no idea how I'll get there. But I do, eventually. Great post!

Wendy said...

Interesting post Roseanne and I loved reading all of the comments. The 2nd and 3rd drafts are hard for me because I already know how the story ends, so it's often a chore to reopen the file. However, I find that I often need to change scenes and in my August novel I actually changed the ending after the 3rd draft when, much to my delight, I realized the person Stefan thought he heard telepathically was someone quite different altogether. That brought great satisfaction, but I did need to change a few things because of it.