A little over a month to go *gulp*
Are you joining?
A little over a month to go *gulp*
Are you joining?
A usually temporary psychological inability to begin or continue work on a piece of writing.
I’m really hoping the “temporary” will be over soon
Writer’s Block is not new to me. I’ve had it before and I got over it by starting fresh or ignoring my manuscript for couple of months. But this time it’s different because…
I know what to write!
It’s right there – in front of me. I love my story. I know what’s happening. All my characters are alive. There is nothing to stop me but as soon as I sit down at my keyboard, fingers hovering, it’s … BLANK.
Over the last weeks I’ve tried all the things that normally work. Reading similar books, reading different books, trying a different story, starting in the middle, ignoring it, starring at it, making myself write*, watching movies, listening to music, reading what I have, revising, making notes, playing stuff out in my head and yet every time it’s… BLANK!
Have you been there?
How did you get past it?
*which I hate
I haven’t done any of these in a while but I thought I’d share my 2 favourite new things when it comes to developing my manuscript. I used these tools in the run up to Nanowrimo and they are now part of my normal outlining process.
I’m a very visual person and pin-boards are ideal for this. You don’t actually need a real pin-board. It can be a folder on your computer or something like scrivener, place to store all the things that inspire you for your story.
Despite having three pin-boards on my wall I still have a big OneNote document for each of my story ideas. I collect photos, phrases and words that inspire me, scenery, scraps of paper with ideas and as the story progresses these get shuffled around, replaced or binned.
Nearly always there will be one thing that is the centre of your idea – if you have a visual representation of that it’s a great thing to stare at when you’re in a writing slump.
Despite resisting the planner whenever possible I have accepted that actually it can be really helpful and have started doing prep work for my writing projects. One thing that I find is brilliant is writing the various moments that pop into my head on cards.
That way I don’t forget them and I can put them in different orders until it clicks.
Do you have any tips you’d care to share?
Today is the last day of Nanowrimo, and I made it! One of the first things I did, after updating my badge, was to wash my hair. I’m not sure what that says about me…
I then made myself a cup of tea and ate some chocolate before posting the messy first draft to my cheerleaders* in my writing group – because I promised them I would and yes I’m terrified as I hasn’t even skimmed over what I’ve written these past 30 days.
So what about you?
When I first began my writing, many many years ago I was a Pantser through and through.
Then as time passed and I learned more, I began to do little bits of planning. It was restricted to the odd note, maybe a page of notes, but not much more. At the start of the story I would relish this. Adore the fact that I was going on the adventure with my characters and couldn’t wait for the next surprise to greet us.
Yet sadly, frequently I’d have a shiny new idea halfway through the story and go back to rewrite the beginning to fit this. While doing that I’d have another idea and would thus began a vicious circle. Inevitably at some point I’d be sick of the whole thing and want to give up.
So at the beginning of the year I thought I’d try being a Planner. I read up on writing character profiles, world-building, researched everything, created detailed histories, chapter planning – the whole shebang.
Result? I knew what I was supposed to be doing but when distractions came my way I gave up on writing much more easily than before, because the thrill wasn’t there.
In the end, for much of this (and last year) neither approach would have kept me writing. There are amazing writers out there who will write through hospital visits, emergency phone calls, redundancy threats and whatever else Fate has in store that month – I am not one of them. Maybe one day I will be.
But as the end of the year neared I started to think about picking up a pen. I found a story that needs telling, characters to love… but neither approach seems to work for me.
Having decided to try Nanowrimo, I’ve been attempting to build a bridge between the two.
Yes, I have character profiles but they aren’t as detailed as before. Yes, there is world-building and research but I’ve kept it to a minimum. If I need to do more, I can always do it after the first draft is done. There is a history and a timeline but I have room to change things…
I know where my story goes, but how my characters get there is still an adventure.
So you know more about your characters, what about the story?
To begin with below are a few questions you can use to help you outline the plot.
- What is the goal for your MC(s)?
- Backstory: ← The past impacts everyone so think about how the personal as well as the ‘world‘s past has influenced your MC. Is there a big fear they need to overcome?
- What is the challenge he/she/they must overcome?
- What set’s the ball rolling? ← What takes your MC from the “normal” world your MC lives in to the story you want to tell?
- What are the conflicts? ← Try to think of at least 3. They don’t all have to be major, it can be things like personality clashes for example.
- The bleakest moment?
- Final choice: ← The choice your MC makes that decides how the story will end.
- What has your MC learned at the end of the story?
I will be delving deeper into outlining in the near future
You’ve got your idea and the tools. Now it’s time to lay some foundations for your story. Personally I don’t think there is a wrong or right order in how to go about this.
I started with character profiles. Knowing who they were helped me create a story around them.
There are templates for writing your profiles all over the place, some basic, others pages long but below is what I pieced together for my WIP.
Name: ← full name, any nicknames
Eyes: ← colour, shape, etc.
Hair: ← is it short, curly, straight, brown, purple, simple or high maintenance?
Completion: ← freckles, dimples, are they fair or dark?
Dress code: ← is your character into their clothes, or goes for comfort?
Other: ← this can be anything that you deem important from burn scars to an obsession with fake nails
A basic history: ← knowing where your character came from, what impacted them in their childhood will help you plan how they will react to situations
Character strengths and flaws: ← is your MC easily lead or independent? Do they act first, think later?
Hobbies and/or Talents:
In relation to the story-
Character’s role in the story:
Relationships with other characters:
What does the character want/what are they prepared to do for this: ← think about this, would they betray a friend for this goal?
What makes this character happy: ← can be big or something simple like rainbows, cheesy pop songs, chocolate.
How does the character change over the course of the story:
You don’t have to fill in a profile for every participant in the story, but I recommend doing a full profile for each MC, as well as enough information for the supporting cast so you know why they react to your MCs/Situations the way they do.
So at the end of week one for Row80 I’m on target. Actually I’m ahead which I’m really pleased with, especially because yesterday just went wrong.
I got talked into working on system testing (boring!) because the person who was supposed to do it couldn’t make it anymore. I found out an hour before I left on Friday that I would have to be back in 8ish on Saturday.
That hour shouldn’t exist on a Saturday morning – it just shouldn’t.
My original targets were as follows:
When I got home yesterday I wasn’t feeling so good so I designed the outside of one of the central buildings in my story. It’s just part of the wall but it will help with writing the descriptions.
I also wrote a brief history (which I forgot to do last week) and did some basic editing before going to bed a ridiculously early hour.
Today is supposed to be my day off but as I’ll be loosing 3 days next week I might ignore that.
To cheer myself up yesterday I started catching up on Sanctuary*
I was still in season 2, but have now reached episode 6 in season 3. I love the new opening song:
Finally check out this awesome contest held by Marieke’s Musings, Rach Writes & Tessa Quin. You can win critiques, books and vouchers!
*my 2nd guilty pleasure, 1st place is still Supernatural.
I will be doing a series of blogs on getting started in your story writing process. The only 2 things you really need are an idea and something to write with*, everything else is optional.
However, it’s a bit like building a house. You have the land and the bricks but it would be a whole lot easier with a design and tools wouldn’t it?
So before we get to the writing part here is a couple of things I’d recommend;
Library and/or Internet
Time, Patience and a bit of Stubbornness
I think Jackson Pearce’s video illustrates my point best…
Writing the story is part one.
Re-writing and editing it is what will take the longest.
*in my case that will be a laptop
I like lists, tasks as such… an order of things I plan to do.
I never got round to joining NaNoWriMo this year – being on another continent for half the month kinda put an end to that. Plus putting your RL on hold for all that time isn’t that easy, so I’m excited about A Round of Words in 80 Days.
If you’d like to join in, click here