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July 24th, 2004, 11:40 AM
Recent thread conversations got me thinking and I decided to start a thread where we can air all our current frustrations -- places where we've hit a snag in our WIP, whether with plot, character, structure, research or some other aspect. You can be as specific or general as you like about the details, and maybe someone else will have an idea for how you can deal with your snag, freely offered of course with no strings attached. At the least, it's a thread in which you can vent and know that you are not alone in the world. All questions, however stupid you might fear they be, are allowed. :)

July 25th, 2004, 10:41 PM
Hmmm....my main snag (frustration) is that I have this book idea swirling in my head, but I cannot pin it down. The problem is that I am having troubles with the specifics. I have a main character in mind, as well as a style (fantasy/western-type), but I am having some trouble with the details.

My idea for workign through it at the moment, is to simply start writing scenes with the character, such as visiting a town. And I will see where it takes me.

July 26th, 2004, 12:03 AM
Great Idea Kat!

Well met michael, welcome to the club. Hope you enjoy it around here. I've got some ideas to help you with your story.

Get out a blank piece of paper or open up a word and start a new document. Now, set a timer (you don't have to but it'll help bring you back to reality) and set it for 15 minutes. Ready? Go! as fast as you can write down EVERYTHING you know or would like to know about the story. If you have the details in your head, write a short blurb about it. Write down nagging questions. Write down names, places, items, etc. Write down everything you can think about. Don't worry if it's coherent (most likely it'll be a hodge-podge of information). Go as fast as you can and try to NOT stop and think about it. This'll give you pure data flow and spring up ideas you hadn't thought of. This is a very simple method called brainstorming. It doesn't work for everyone, but it can be a very useful tool.

As for the storyline/plot, that's another story, but a brainstorm can be just what you need to kick something off and have an idea where you plan to go to. If you decide to plot, try to pick a begining and an end and then figure out how the character(s) will get from point A to point B. Again a plot outline doesn't work for everyone but it can be a useful tool.

Finally, post in the exercises. Wait, sorry, that was a shameless plug. ;). I saw you already did. I'm about to post comments over there as well.

Again, Kat (it's Kevin, right? :)) great idea for a post.

July 26th, 2004, 02:02 PM
You know I've been called variously Karen, Kristina, Katrina, Caitlin, Kim, Carol, Kathleen, Katie, etc., and now it's Kevin. I think everyone should just call me Sierra. That's a good romantic figure, non-gender specific name. Sierra Heathcliff, that's me. :)

Michael, writing and seeing where it goes probably will work. Another thing, which you've probably already thought of, is watching western movies or reading western novels. The things they may do might be ideas you want to borrow or the things that they do might give you ideas for doing the exact opposite, which might work for your story, depending on how western-y you want to be. If you have pay channels, and are in North America, I recommend the show "Deadwood" -- it's just fun. Why Ian McShane didn't get an Emmy nomination, I don't know.

Me, I figured out what the thingy the hero had would be for, for later on in the story, and why the opposition character wanted the hero to do certain things. Now, I have to figure out how the hero can basically win a ritualistic duel against a magical creature to free a girl, and it can't be in such a way that would cause the readers to wonder why the hero didn't do the same thing in a previous battle with attacking magical creatures. Or maybe, since it's a first draft, I just won't worry about it making sense right now, but that's the snag I'm dealing with at the moment.

July 27th, 2004, 11:38 AM
Re a tip I was given, similar to Sierra's;) concerning scenes and trying to see them.

I spent ages trying to write fight scenes, detailing movements etc, but found I was getting nowhere... A gent in the movie stunt industry suggested I watch films with good sword work in them. Watch, make notes of moves that caught my eye as a viewer, then try and describe them, then cut them down to suit my characters or keep the "flash" bits. Give an impression of a fight, through my character, not a blow by blow... it worked...

My snag is time. The lack of. I am trying to edit work at the moment, one large piece for an agent... plus another couple of joint efforts, plus finish off a chapter breakdown synopsis for another novel already edited. Yet I keep having to break off for real life, which is throwing hell at me, more than normal.

So each time I break off I have to re-read or get back into that piece... It feels as if I am walking in treacle!!! One sticky step forward and slip back four!!!!

Then I get side tracked by new ideas and story lines and other projects wanting to be born...

I need to get sorted, be smart with my time but never am.

July 27th, 2004, 11:45 AM
My problem is that my novel is too big to wade through now. I spent half the time finding my place in it. Then i add bits and get all confused with the order of it.

July 27th, 2004, 02:52 PM
Is it possible it might be time to start looking at your prose from the beginning at where you can cut? If you are having trouble "wading" through it, now may be the time.

Look for wordy phrases, info dumps, possibly even scenes or characters which may not be totally necessary. By removing extraneous material, you will end up with a tighter, stronger manuscript. There is nothing saying that you can't add back bits and pieces later...

Of course, save a copy of your original first, so you can restore any changes.

July 30th, 2004, 12:33 PM
My problem is that my novel is too big to wade through now. I spent half the time finding my place in it. Then i add bits and get all confused with the order of it.

Isn't there some organizational software that could help with that around somewhere? I seem to vaguely remember hearing about some outlining programs.

Holbrook -- I hear you, man!

July 30th, 2004, 12:50 PM
One thing I've done to help (and some publishers and agents require this for submission) is a chapter by chapter blow of the book. This allows me to jump straight into a chapter and find my 'spot'. I created this when I went through my first book cover to cover and when I finished with a chapter, I wrote down what happened in one or two paragraphs.

Now that I've got my chapter by chapter it'll be a matter of condensing that into a synopsis (again, most agents and publishers require this for submission).

Think about doing this as well. It'll give you a nice roadmap for your book and help you tie up any loose ends you may have accidently created in chapter 4 and didn't sum up by the end of the book. Readers like tidy packages.

July 30th, 2004, 10:57 PM
Isn't there some organizational software that could help with that around somewhere? I seem to vaguely remember hearing about some outlining programs.

Storyview at $99 - http://www.screenplay.com/
Dramatica Pro at $269 - http://www.dramatica.com/
Story Master Pro at $139 - http://www.writersharbor.com/

Or you can spend a couple of bucks at walmart and get some folders or ntoebooks and make yourself a writer's bible that has everything you know about your characters and the world they live in. And a whiteboard so you can draw out your timeline.