Spitting In the Eye of Fear

I have a confession to make.

My writing has come to a screeching halt and I feel like I’m balanced on the edge of a chasm, windmilling my arms, trying not to fall into the abyss.

Oh, ok – maybe that’s a little melodramatic.

Slightly.

But you get my point, right?

You may remember back a few weeks ago, when I realized an essential mistake with my worldbuilding that resulted in having to get rid of my outline for the middle of my novel?

That gaping hole in my manuscript is the abyss.

I know essentially what I want to happen at the end (which may or may not survive, depending on what I write for the middle), but how I get there has been up in the air. So, I scurried back to my little collection of writing how-to books and clinic material. Had a little heart-to-heart with my Muse. Then got to work.

This time, I’m finding Donald Maass’s How to Write the Breakout Novel Workbook particularly helpful. I knew I was terribly thin in certain areas. Specifically, my Bad Guy and Big Bad Guy and how they both fit into the plot. (I spent more time focused on the Bad Guy and ignored the Big Bad Guy. Except that my Bad Guy turned into Whining Guy and I knew I was in trouble.) The workbook definitely helped me flesh out these areas.

Maass has this knack for really helping you see things clearly. I love how he has you consider the basic personality traits of your character and then makes you look at the opposite qualitites, and figure out why and under what circumstances the character would show those traits. It makes for more well-rounded characters and helps with that all-important concept of “the twist.”

The problem I’m having is: now that I understand my characters better, how do I translate that into specific scenes? Today, I just happen to be drawing a blank. But I can feel some of the characters starting to rap on my skull. I’ll take that as a good sign.

Next up: Plot. My own, personal, many-tentacled monster. Trying to find a nice balance without going all Robert Jordan on my novel makes me shake in my crocs.

Ya know?

I’m hoping that taking this time now to slow down and sort things out will allow me to write at break-neck speed later.

That’s the plan, anyway…

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11 comments on “Spitting In the Eye of Fear

  1. scribbla says:

    “now that I understand my characters better, how do I translate that into specific scenes?” – You don’t need to. Chuck them into a situation and see what happens. If they are rounded characters, they will react. And if you have the ending in mind already, they will be reacting to either reach (protag) the ending or prevent (bad guys) the ending.

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  2. Texanne says:

    I’m still seeing you on the edge of the abyss, windmilling your arms. Apt image!

    You likely have Holly’s How to Create a Character Clinic. She talks about how to put your character on display, how to show what he’s made of. Wouldn’t hurt to leaf through it.

    Best wishes!

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    • ekcarmel says:

      Yep, I’ve got it and it’s been helpful. I just happened to grab Maass’s this time. Thanks for the reminder!

      Try to stay cool down there!

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  3. Oh definitely! I think this is known as the mire of the middle and other icky and equally ominous terms. It sounds like you’ve done exactly the right thing and found a winner with Donald Maass’s advice.

    When you know your characters like that even just knowing the next scene or two can keep you writing. Set yourself a timer, embrace your muse and shoo away that fear. You’ll be surprised at what gems you will already have begun to write into your story.

    Good luck!

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    • ekcarmel says:

      “knowing the next scene or two can keep you writing” – I’ve done that before! My Muse and I are definitely doing better lately, so I’m optimistic!

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  4. I don’t know. Slowing down on the writing could equal coming to a halt. Don’t let it stop you. Remember? That’s what revision is for. If you get down what you can now revelations may come later that will help you go back and do some earlier fleshing out, if that makes sense.

    Here’s some rope: http://static5.depositphotos.com/1029099/424/i/950/depositphotos_4241577-Roll-of-rope-isolated-on-white.jpg

    Hang in there!

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  5. Just start to write and see what happens. That is sometimes the best thing to do. Anything written can be edited – but you have to have something on the page first.

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  6. Tammy says:

    I agree with expressionallyme – just write and see what happens. I think you are so far ahead of where the rest of us are and that you’re being hard on yourself. You can write your way out of this.

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  7. ekcarmel says:

    @expressionallyme and @Tammy – sometimes freewriting works and sometimes I get a bunch of garbage. I haven’t done it lately, though, so maybe it’s time.

    Yes, I’m good at being hard on myself. Workin’ on that!

    Like

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