Tag Archives: writing is hard

Something Different

Over time, writers develop instincts about what they have written. They can tell you whether or not the story is going anywhere. Sometimes, they know as they write the scene that it’s wrong, but they aren’t sure how to fix it. Sometimes, they write a scene just for fun, and will take it out later. Every now and then, a writer starts a story that they know isn’t going to be anything more than research.

light bulbs

If you have reached this point and you feel the scene, the story, or the whole concept is not worth your time, just keep writing. Trust your instincts and bring whatever it is to a close. Don’t judge it now. You might be writing something just to get the creative juices flowing. You might be exploring a concept that will be dealt with in a different story. You might have a better idea about how to do that scene later on. Don’t delete it unless you know for certain that it is not needed within your story.

I was convinced as I was penning my first story that it was a future bestseller. Of course, I was 18 at the time, and I’m sure that had something to do with it. As time went on and I revisited that first book, I was appalled by how much was wrong with it – both technically and plot-wise. It’s been quite a long time since I finished the story, and I’m still working out all the kinks. I was stumped on how I was going to publish it if it still wasn’t presentable to the public.

Then I started penning Jasmine’s story. It took a few chapters for me to realize that this was my first book, not the one I’d been fixing. I knew as I wrote it that there was something different about the book. It carried the same messages as my other stories, but there was something else as well, something that I still haven’t quite put my finger on. There was a depth in this plot that wasn’t present in my previous attempts. There were possibilities with the story, and a potential for sequels – something I didn’t know when I was writing it.

legos

Perhaps it was God urging me in the proper direction. Maybe it was my writer’s instinct. Perhaps it was both of those things. Regardless, Jasmine’s first story became my debut novel. I’m glad I listened to that little nudge to pursue this line of stories.

Don’t be afraid to listen to your writer’s instinct. Take the story where it wants to go. Trust that you will know how to get your character out of whatever pickle they find themselves in. As writers, we have excellent instincts about our stories. Trust that feeling as you write and polish. A lot of times, you find out that you were right.

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Planning Stages

I’ve tried to keep this blog a bit more personal than my previous one. In order to relate my current situation to writing, I must share news that most people who know me are already aware of.

I’m engaged.

kr

As of this writing, the date has not been set. We’re at least getting closer to declaring one, but at the moment it’s still up in the air.

There was a church cookout this weekend. Several friends that I knew during my high school years were in attendance. It was a blast to see them. They were overjoyed with my news. They were able to meet my fiancé. But by the end of the day, we had answered the same question at least 25 times times. No, we didn’t have a date yet.

Not to be deterred, the two of us sat down and looked at the calendar. We at least eliminated certain seasons. We nailed down other details, trying to decide who should be in the wedding party. My mother made a list of what is needed, and that list keeps getting longer: cake, flowers, hair stylist, photographer, videographer, ushers, greeters, decorations, food for the reception…you get the idea.

The more I think about the wedding, the more I remember how much we don’t know and how much more there is to discuss. I’ve moved from the “that’s pretty” stage of planning (thanks, Pinterest!) to the “we could possibly do this” stage. After all that comes the budget and eliminating choices due to price, but we aren’t quite there yet.

Moving the conversation back to writing, certain events in your book must be planned. If you know that the real villain is one of your gang’s inner circle, you have to plant clues about that early on, all while not tipping your hand before the big reveal. Book series with overarching events must be planned. Certain stages must be set before other information is uncovered. The events of book one lead up to book two, and you won’t enjoy book three as much if you haven’t read book two. That’s the beauty of series books. A new reader on book three will get hooked and go back to buy book one and two if you’ve done your job right.

But before you get excited readers handing you their money in exchange for a chance to read your book, you must first plan. What needs to happen here? What must follow it? Does one event lead up to the next effectively? Is your ending weak? Are your beta readers satisfied where you ended it?

While writing the book is hard, planning is difficult, too. Some things won’t be decided until it’s written. Then you must go back in the story and plant necessary hints if the event requires it. Though the plotting writer already knows that, the writer who simply feels out the scene as they pen it must keep these facts in mind, since they will need to backtrack and add those details (well, if you’re me and are as clueless as the reader for part of the book, you do).

Hats off to all those who plan ahead. As one who is in the midst of planning my own event, I salute you. Planning can be very difficult!

We have since picked a date. Planning the event is much easier with a date. 🙂

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Seeing the Bigger Picture

I’m avoiding yet another depressing scene, so I’m penning yet another blog entry. I’m almost finished with the story. Last time, I talked about not knowing where the story ended. Guess what? I still don’t know where the story ends!

I’m a plotter. Sort of. I know Point C as I’m writing out Point A. I may not have Point Z figured out, but I at least have the next few steps. There have been other books where I knew Point A and Z, but the in-between stages were fuzzy. I figured those out as I wrote. That also means that I write by the seat of my pants, known in the NaNo world as a pantser. When people ask what type of writer I am, I tell them both. I plot out the story arc and figure out the details as I write them. More of a planner, but there are pantsing elements.

Planning makes the story go easier. You know as you start the chapter where it should end. You know where the character will be. There are few surprises. And, the more you plan, the more hints you can place along the way for the reader.

What is so frustrating about this story is that I don’t know where it ends. I’m a big picture gal, and not knowing the ending is driving me crazy. CRAZY!

I’m not giving up, though. I’m going to keep writing this story until I reach what I know takes place. Then, like it always does, the murky stuff that I didn’t see before will pull itself out of the writing sludge. “Here I am! Your beautiful ending!”

I’ve done this before, you see, but not with endings. I like to know my endings before I start the book. But this story is different, so I have to accommodate.

I guess I’d better get back to writing. Maybe I’ll know more about the ending after I finish this depressing scene. I will be rewarding myself with ice cream when I’m done. Yes, it’s one of those chapters. The reader just might need tissues.

Keep writing, even when you don’t want to. That’s what will one day make you a great writer.

If you’ll excuse me, I need to take my own advice.

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I Don’t Want To

I’ve reached a difficult part in my story. I’ve got my characters in two different places. After spending 10 chapters with one set, I’m switching back to the other characters. Within the next five chapters, I need to sentence dad and daughter to a life of servitude, introduce the snotty prince, get the daughter sick (introduce someone else), get the girl better, get the dad mad at the prince, and then have him thrown in the dungeons. I apparently can’t write these stories without visiting the dungeons. It’s rather depressing.

I’ve browsed my standard sites, watched my tv shows, and played all my games. I’ve run out of things to do. I must write.

Instead, I’m writing a blog entry.

I’ve been here before, you see. I don’t mind writing. But when the story gets tough, this writer gets going. I take a writing break. I check Facebook. I watch tv. I clean. You know I’m avoiding something when I’m cleaning.

Why? It’s not that I want a half finished story. I know that on a good day, it will take me half an hour sometimes to pull out a handful of paragraphs. For emotional scenes, time stands still. Think about your favorite book. Remember the part you just about cried reading? You’re not the only one who had an emotional reaction to it. For it to touch the reader, it must first touch the author. And the author not only knows what’s coming up, for a series of depressing events, the start of such scenes make them want to run for cover.

You were a wreck reading the break-up scene? Try writing the stupid scene. Try imagining both characters and rehearsing who said what. After determining you’re going to write it, then you have to figure out who’s going to talk (well, if you switch out your narrators, you do). Those scenes with all the details that made it that much more awesome? The author had to sit there and think up all those details you loved. You wanted to cry? How do you think we felt writing it?

In order for characters to have emotional depth, authors have to step ever-so-briefly into their characters’ shoes. They have to know how they feel. So if the MC feels like crying on page 38, and you’re wiping away tears by the end of the chapter, chances are the author felt like crying too.

What is the cure for getting over the difficult parts in your books? Well, eventually, you just have to do it. My current chapter needs more than two paragraphs. I should fix that. After I check Facebook.

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