Wednesday, March 4, 2015

ISWG: Stuck



If you would’ve asked me a few weeks ago if I had any insecurities, I would’ve said no.

Coming off a fantastic retreat, excited about the possibilities of revising my manuscript, I was flying high. It seemed I had the golden touch, and everything I wrote was coming together brilliantly.


I’ve never had a book go so well, I kept saying. This book is different from the rest. 


Ha! Of course, it did not take long for me to eat my words.


Now I’m nearing the end of the book—at least my revisions on the plot issues. And I’ve hit the scene that is the bane of my existence. It was hard to draft the first time; it’s been equally hard to revise. I hate this scene. I’ve spent the last few weeks on this one scene. Rewriting, revising the scenes coming up to it, analyzing other books in my genre to see how they handle similar scenes. If I could throw this scene across the room, I would.


And I thought everything was going so well.

You see, I’m one of those writers who finds the beginning easiest. I love writing the beginning of a novel. I don’t start a novel until the beginning comes to me, and often it’s the scene I have to revise the least. I slog through the middle, and the end is excruciating. But give me a beginning any day. Maybe it’s because I love the mysteries and possibilities of the opening. You can’t keep all those options open at the end. You have to make choices. You have to tie up loose threads, and that’s not as fun.


So this awful scene that’s giving me so much trouble is one of the last chapters. It leads into the climax. There’s a lot at stake to get it right. 


But I know it’s not a good sign when I hate a scene, when it feels like it’s pulling teeth to write. I’m thinking if I hate it so much, readers will too.


What do you do when you get stuck? How do you find your way through?

23 comments:

  1. Maybe have critique partners look at it. Having someone with a fresh eye look at it could really help. I know you'll figure it out.

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  2. I'll trade you - the beginning is the hardest for me and I find my stride by the middle.
    Maybe that scene needs to be chucked completely? As Natalie said, get someone else to look it over.

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  3. I'm stuck at a different spot (the beginning! I actually love beginnings too, and usually they come easily to me, but this one has been getting enough problematic feedback from readers that I know I have to tackle it again). I also know your pain with the scenes leading up to the climax. I was stuck on one for months.

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  4. Natalie--Good advice. I already got some feedback that it wasn't working. But I do need to have someone look over the revised version.

    Alex--I'd love to trade. :) Perhaps it does need to be chucked, but I need to find a way to convey some of the information elsewhere.

    Margo--Thanks for the encouragement!

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  5. I have the opposite problem! I'm like Alex in that I usually hit my stride in the middle. The beginnings are always a little tough for me.

    I wish I had some good advice to give you...the only thing I can think of is to set it aside for a while and come back to it. Maybe that time away will give you fresh eyes and a new perspective. Just a thought...

    Good luck! And don't get frustrated. It will come...in time. :)

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  6. I'm with Natalie and Alex; and I think talking it through with someone helps too, even with someone that doesn't right, as long as that person likes to read. Sometimes when I tell someone else what's going on with my story, I discover the answer before they even say anything. Or, sometimes they give me three ideas that don't work but make me think in a different direction - my daughters came up with a wild possibility of turning my main character into a whale . . . which made me laugh, and then made me think of how I could get her out of her whale of a trouble.

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  7. UGH, I hate that! I'm so sorry. I think having CPs give it some fresh eyes would help - which would give you a chance to follow Kristin's advice and walk away for a bit. You could also try - just as an exercise - trashing it and starting it all over again. Good luck!

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  8. We all eat our words (or thoughts) at times. Life has a way of grounding us like that. Sorry you've hit a snag. Try stepping back and let your mind go. Maybe the scene isn't working because that's not the way the story wants to go.

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  9. Kristin--Thank you for the encouragement! I think I do need to step away for awhile.

    Tyrean--I love it when kids give you ideas. :) I rarely use those ideas, but they're a good jumping off point. My hubby is also good at that.

    Liz--I was thinking of trashing it or rewriting it. Good idea!

    Sheri.--Very wise. That's probably true.

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  10. Sometimes if a scene gives me that much trouble, it just doesn't belong. Can you take it out and try to lead up to the end in a different way? Good luck!

    Yvonne

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    1. You know, everyone keeps saying that maybe I should take it out. I'm definitely going to look at that. Thanks for the encouragement, Yvonne!

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  11. I go backwards. I've hit a wall a few times and I would try to push through it but then, it was like my characters just stopped talking to me. I would try again and nothing. Crickets. Finally, I went back to the part I still felt comfortable with and tried writing from there. And then my characters pointed me in a completely different direction. It felt uncomfortable because I was like "noooo. We're supposed to go THIS way." But they insisted. And it is, after all, their story.

    Maybe back track to the last scene you feel good with. Start from their and let loose on the reigns. Your characters will tell you what to do. Good luck!

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  12. I have to ponder the chapter/problem for a few days or a week. I need to figure out exactly what it is that I hate or what I feel's missing. Once I pinpoint the problem, then I can start figuring ways to change the scene/plot to fix it. Don't worry - you'll get it! :)

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  13. That's a tough one. The whole last part of my novel wasn't working. I worked on it and worked on it and finally thought I had it until a beta reader said, "this doesn't feel like it's part of the story, it doesn't feel like it belongs." She was right. You just have to go deep and ask some tough questions. Maybe your Muse is trying to tell you there's a different way to get where you're going.

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  14. I've found the scenes that give us the biggest challenges during the writing process can often end up being the strongest part of the entire book. I have a feeling once you get through it, you'll have a phenomenal ending.

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  15. I kind of agree with Stephanie although you've had a lot of great advice. I'm not sure any great work should necessarily come easily. I think this scene being so crucial is another reason it may feel so difficult. I say stick with it, and eventually you'll have something you're really proud of!

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  16. When I get stuck, I skip ahead to the next scene and play connect-the-dots later. Maybe if you write the next one and you know how it's supposed to come together, it will make that scene easier.

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  17. I agree, you need to get it right. And the readers will notice if you don't. Maybe try outlining the story beginning to end, careful to note the stuff that's related to that problem scene. I'm sure you'll get it.

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  18. Here lately, I've been writing out of sequence. I'll jump ahead and write the end, then back up and write the things I need to lead to that ending. This process saved my bacon on Going Through the Change, and I wish I'd tried it sooner.

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  19. Endings are not my forte as well and I have to rewrite the wretched things a gazillion times before I get them right. Siiigh.

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  20. Thank you all so much for your advice and encouragement! I'm going to be trying your ideas, especially the going backwards and thinking where it started to feel off, C.G. Diane and Samantha, I've already skipped to the next scene and I think it's helping me, so I don't lose momentum.
    And, Stephanie and Nick, your encouragement really helps!

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  21. I keep writing so I won't lose momentum--even if I sense something is wrong and several scenes or chapters are a mess--and revise later. Leaving the manuscript alone for awhile gives me ideas. My CP's also give great feedback.

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  22. Well, you've made such wonderful progress. I've not read all the responses, but I'd skip it. Move forward as if you've written it. BLANKETY_BLANK happens here. Let your subconscious work. So what if you have to rewrite the ending. You are writing and not beating your head against a brick wall. Good luck.

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