Thursday, March 11, 2010

Problems with Plotting - Part 1

I've been in a massive writing funk lately. Once I finished my SciFi novel, it seemed that all my writing ambition decided to up and take a walk - to the next state. I can only assume that it's having a grand old time, because it hasn't even bothered to call or drop me a postcard. Stupid ambition...

Back a while ago, I told you guys that I was going to try to plot out my dark fantasy novel. Many authors have said that they have the whole story planned out before they start writing. I usually have an idea of what kicks off the story, a few main characters defined, and.... that's about it. Sometimes I don't even have a desired ending figured out until halfway through the novel, and that just strikes me as a bad habit to continue. If I don't know where I'm going, I can't be sure that I'll ever get there. Sure the journey is fun, but it's just not orderly enough for my engineer's brain.

So this time, I decided to start by writing out each plot idea, hitting the high points - characters, what led to this point, what it should accomplish, the emotions that come into play, etc - and then moving on to the next one. It's basically the same process I have done when writing in the past, but I'm not actually writing the scenes as I go now. Occasionally I go ahead and put some actual dialog down if it comes to me, or scene building, but that's it. I move on to figuring out the next point. This was working pretty well for me. I wasn't writing every single day, but when I did sit down to write, it was flowing nicely. Once I had the initial scenes and interplay figured out, I took a look at what this book should accomplish - how it should end (in a very general sense). Amazingly enough, it worked! I came up with an ending and I wasn't even a quarter of the way through planning out the book. Remarkable.

And then I sat there. And my brain sat there. We twiddled our thumbs. We haven't come up with a single idea since then (it's been a week now, and I'm starting to get antsy). I have no idea what happened to bring everything to a grinding halt. Is it somehow not the right ending and my subconscious knows this but isn't sharing with the rest of the class? Could be. Is the idea for this novel only strong enough for a short story or novella? Maybe, but I don't think so.

Are any of the rest of you in a work/writing dump right now? I'd like to know that I'm not alone in here...


  1. You're not alone. Never think that. I've just finished my upteenth editing session of my novel. Now it's being read by my writer friends for their opinion. Because I'm no longer thinking about that story for a while, I decided to start a new one. I've had the idea mulling over in my head for about a year or so now. Anyway, it started great. I was getting back in the swing of doing some actual writing instead of editing. I've got to Chapter 4, 11,000 words . . . and now I've hit a brick wall. Ideas are there, but the words don't want to be written.

    Instead I'm sitting here reading and commenting on your blog when I should be writing. I've been staring at a blank screen for about 2 hours now

  2. Hah! That sounds so much like my situation! I had a teeny tiny spark of an idea last night, and I'm going to write it down in the random events section of my plotting file. Maybe just getting in there and writing something will spark some other ideas. Who knows.

    I read about one writer who writes out all the reasons she can't seem to get anything written - what's got her worked up or what's distracting her or what aspects of the story don't seem to be going well. Sometimes just getting it written down and out there helps to unclog her writing pipes, she says. It's worth a try. :)