Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Does this happen to anyone but me? Every single time I feel like I'm home free, that I have a solid outline and am confident that the story from here on in makes sense, I hit a wall.

Every. Single. Time.

I'm writing a structured novel, which is likely a mistake to start with. Every chapter has three scenes, two from Tempest's viewpoint, and one from Aben's. They start out the story in the same location, and will (I think!) end it there. But in between, the threads are somewhat independent.

This means that two independent story lines must both have a similar amount going on, similar amounts of tension and disasters. It's hard to keep this balanced. Today I got to the next scene of Aben's in the outline, and it's horrible. Not only that, but he's practically treading water for the next few chapters waiting for the big slide into the inevitable that signals the beginning of the end.

My first impulse is to just write him out of the story. You know, drown him or something. But it's kinda hard to have romantic fantasy without the male lead character, and besides, the story has plenty of tragedy already. I think the boy needs to live. (Probably unmaimed...though that gives an idea...)

So I pulled out Holly Lisle's Create a Plot Clinic. She's got it laid out in three main sections: Plotting Before Writing, Plotting While Writing, and Plotting While Revising.

Clearly I need the middle one. I open it and read this:
This is the most common scenario. You're somewhere in the middle of the writing and you hit a bad plot card. It sounded like a great idea at the time, or maybe it only sounded like an iffy idea at the time but you put it in there anyway, confident that when you got to it, you'd be so into the story that you could make it work. Only now you and your Muse look at each other and go, "Uh-uh. Not gonna do it."

Yep. Holly has pretty much nailed where I'm at. I have a few glimmerings of ideas but nothing that looks concrete. In fact, my thoughts at the moment are quite will'o'wisp. When I look straight at them, there's nothing there, but if I look sideways, pretending I don't care, there is *almost* something over there.

Back to reading the plot clinic. Hopefully something will coax those will'o'wisp thoughts out where they can be scrutinized.

1 comment:

Margaret said...

Hugs Val. No, you're not alone in this. Honestly, I've never tried for anything as structured as you're talking. I let the story determine who gets the POV, etc. But I have had to rework significant parts of the outline before. I usually rework at least a little on each one, but I expect that so don't fight it like you seem to be doing. Hope you figure this out.