When I am stuck, I scribble.
Having slogged through weeks of getting nowhere I finally found myself sliding to a complete halt. I couldn’t see where I was going. All momentum had long since faded. It felt like I was scratching for the sake of scratching rather than for real purposes of creation.
I went back to my notes but, this far through the story, I found I’d deviated too much from my outline for it to be really useful – at this point in proceedings, at least. To be honest, calling it an outline is perhaps optimistic anyway. The barest whispers of ideas given undue confidence and swagger is a better description.
So I wrote some new ideas.
Let’s be honest, it didn’t happen just like that. It took me about four sessions of staring at my manuscript, then staring at my wannabe-outline, before I realised I needed a different approach. But however long it took me, it seems to have helped. I have new direction and less ‘oh my god this is torturousness’ (torturosity?) feeling about the whole project.
When I’m stuck the first thing I like to do is to write about the problem: to find a way to express it. This doesn’t always come easy, but getting it down on paper – or occasionally Twitter – is an important first step for me. Hence:
Callan and the book: Could be going to either of two locations
- To the DM, who has his Glen Rd house
- Fitz wants to deal with this man
- Rewrite introductory scene to feature DM, not the Peppers (though they may also be present)
- DM has the power to make Fitz’s ambitions happen
- To the Troll Farm
- Peppers want the book there
Callan needs to be left alone with the book
Once the problem is set out, the answers always seem easier; a spot of selective brainstorming (oxymoronic, I know, but you get what I mean) shows me possible futures, and though I never seem to stick with what I come up with – this is already out of date – it resets me, gets me out of the morass I created. Thus:
So: Fitz’s POV: (or Callan’s?)
- In the limo, with lord & lady Pepper and the DM
- They have been to the DMs house; called the Peppers from there; kept Callan locked up until they arrived
- Praise for Fitz: DM lets him know that he’s going to get his reward
- Temporal power
- Revenge on Mark/Paul
(I feel safe letting you into this part of my manuscript as I’ve no doubt this will make any sense to anyone. It barely makes sense to me. In fact, looking back at it now, I can’t believe how sketchy it is; there’s so much skipped, assumed, even for me.)
The point isn’t to say that you should be doing this. Just that this works for me. Everyone has their own way of making progress, be it following a set plan down to the last syllable or by dispensing with notes altogether. I just thought you might be interested to see that a) I do get (very) stuck sometimes, and b) I have a way to get myself out of the mire.
It’s something I think I’ve done for about every novel I’ve written. It’s just that this time I actually noticed what I was doing.
Interesting? I’m not sure. But it filled in another week’s blog, so there’s that, at least.