A to Z Challenge 2013

Friday, April 17, 2009

Making A Difficult Decision

Tonight I was working on my WIP and I came to a very clear conclusion: I am lost. My storyline has become confused and foggy at best, and I have no real clear way to get to the end. I already know that I have huge plot holes, I'm missing extremely important chapters for character development, and my beginning is nowhere near intriguing enough to capture a reader's attention.

With all of this in mind, I have chosen to stop working on draft 1 (despite the fact that I have not reached a point where I can type "The End"). What I HAVE done that is good is I spent a great deal of time creating an Outline of the book. Its not completely detailed, but it is alot more than I had before, which was nothing at all. I am going to shelve draft 1 and begin carving out draft 2 instead. There is alot of good writing I have created so far, but its jumbled and mishapen. I did not reach my writing goal for today (I only wrote 622 or so words), but I will make up for that tomorrow. So now I'm going to sit back and let the ideas stew for a while, think deep thoughts about where I need to go, and start anew tomorrow. Am I crazy for doing this? I have no idea, but I'm sure time will tell. One thing I've learned from all this however, is to have a much more organized process from the get-go. An outline in the beginning would have saved me alot of pain, and my writing probably would have been much better. Oh well, this is one lesson I will never forget. Any thoughts? At this point, I would welcome any other perspectives and advice.

6 comments:

WindyA said...

Eric,
I stumble into this situation sometimes too and I've actually done the outline thing. I've gone about it a bit differently, though. I go through and do a complete outline. Then I make a copy of said outline and actually cut and paste key things I've already written that I really like into the related section of the outline. It's like reference notes.

Once all that is done, then I dig into the new writing of the next draft. It's actually worked out pretty well on my 2 completed mss. But those were actually background stories to my current projects and will probably never see the light of day.

All I'm saying is, don't scrap what you've got completely. Use it as reference and you may be surprised by what new stuff you come out with when you define more clearly what the "meat" of your project is.

Good luck!

Lost Wanderer said...

You are doing exactly the right thing. I have made the same mistake - repeatedly. I think when we start think about writing a book, we think "inspiration, chaotic creativitiy" and so we just start writing, believing everything would fall in place.

I have two WIPs with gaping holes, and I have decided to do the same as you. Stop writing. Do a complete outline first, and then sort the draft out.

Obviously I have learned my lesson now, so anything new I start, I start with an outline first.

But don't be discouraged. Just accept it as part of learning process. We may be able to write, but if we knew everything about the craft, we wouldn't be beginners.

The Screaming Guppy said...

Sounds like you have a good plan. If you’re stuck, you’re stuck. Forcing yourself to continue is gonna be tough, and likely not produce good results. Besides, if you’ve made up your mind that you want to do draft 2, your muse is going to be a bastard until you do just that. Breaks really do help. I spend hours and hours just thinking about a story, long before I start writing. And even when I’m working on it for a daily word count goal, I still find myself thinking on it in the spare moments I find in the day.

For me, I usually start with a very general outline of plot points and “big ideas.” Then I just go. I have very free roaming characters, which I know doesn’t work for some people. I kind of let them show me the story. Sometimes they run off and get themselves killed, and I have to rewrite the rest of my outline. (You know who you are, certain character who shall remained unnamed.) Either way, I normally hit the middle, and then have an outline spurt, where I plan out the rest of the book in greater detail.

Does that help? Hell if I know. Half the time I think I need to keep my characters on a tighter leash. But it always seems like when they get themselves killed, it betters my novel.

If all else fails, throw in some cannibalism or something else equally weird. Oh, and some Diet Coke. Characters love Diet Coke. ;)

Good luck. I’m sure everything will sort itself out. I love those moments when you feel like you’ve been struck by the bus of super awesome ideas.

Just_Me said...

Don't quit writing!!!

Do I need to tattoo this to your forehead? It can be arranged. I know people.

First drafts are flawed. They suck. They have gaping holes. They ramble. They are misspelled. IT DOES NOT MATTER.

What matters is finishing that draft before you enter the editing trenches. You're going to find plot twists in chapter 25, 6 pages from the end, that change everything from chapter 1. They won't be planned, but they will rock your world. And you will find them on draft 1 of the ending, whether you have the other 25 chapters perfect or not, things will change.

And then you won't be on your "Final Draft" about ready to tack on an ending. You will be on "Draft Five Million" rewriting from the get go.

Slow down a little and plan if you must. But scraping a rough draft is very dangerous.

NaNo Lesson #1: Keep writing!

Sara Tribble said...

Consider yourself lucky to have noticed so soon! Rather than continue on and have to start all over again from beginning to end!

I know I had some kinks to work out but other readers gave me the heads up. I'm now revising my work and it's going good but it's tideious because I already have it written but yet I have to write it differently and better! Some parts are easier than others but that's the beauty of revising!

Hang in there, we all learn as we go and find things that need tweaking.

Sherry Ficklin said...

Yeah, don't get down, it happens to all of us at some point. My advice, Print it out (this is key) and read from the beginning. AS A READER. try to pinpoint where it gets murkey. Then slowly unravel it back to that point and hit it again! I have a great sheet of tips for unknottinh your plot. One is, 'kill a mime'. Maybe you just need to kill a few mimes, you know?