Thursday, June 28, 2012

Obstacles to progress....

Sorry again for the long time between posts.  A lot has been going on since college let out.  Shortly before I finished my classes I started a new job whose hours have been fluctuating quite a bit.  Secondly, I'm still sharing my laptop with my wife until we can afford to fix hers, so even when I'm not working I still have limited access and am usually trying to write as well as use my laptop for TV viewing.  (We don't have cable or DISH or anything else right now, can't afford it).  And finally, we are in the process of slowly packing up our apartment in anticipation of moving towards the end of July.  So a lot of things have been going on and slowing down my writing and blogging.  Hopefully, after we move this will all change quickly.  Especially since after we do move, I'll only have a 5-10 minute commute instead of a 40-45 minute one and that's just one-way.

Now, that I've explained all that, let's get on to today's topic.  Roadblocks in your story.  I'm not talking about the ones you put in for your characters to overcome.  I mean the ones that crop up as you write and are slowing you down or even have you at a standstill.  I ran across this recently and for a couple of weeks it stumped me.  I kept writing and re-writing this one scene over and over to see what would make it work better.  And each time I thought I had it, then the next day when I looked it over I was like,  "Welllll... it's okay but it's not what I really want.  It doesn't fit with the rest of the flow of the book.  Let me try again..."  For me, sometimes writing a scene and placing it in just the right spot is like trying to figure out the old Rubik's Cube puzzle.  I'll twist it this way and that, thinking I'm close only to find it's still not right.

So what did I do about it?  I went back to the beginning of the novel and read.  For me, I don't have the luxury of just writing day after day and moving things along.  Sometimes days or even a week will pass before I can get back to the story and I've forgotten some of what I did earlier.  I'll wind up repeating the same idea or theme without meaning to.  So when I finally get around to editing a finished draft I have to decide where in the story did that idea work best and then remove it from the other half dozen places I used it.  Now on this occasion I found a scene where I needed to hint at ideas that were appearing later in the story.  This would give the story added foreshadowing and since I'm working on a horror/mystery type of story this is great.  I also found a spot where I could introduce a new character earlier in the book quickening the pace without rushing the story.  I also found by doing this I was shortening the current length of the book leaving me more space for the climactic final confrontation scene.

So, how did this help me with where I was still stuck?  It opened new possibilities for how to use that scene.  I had made new relationships and settings for my characters to explore and play with.  I now have a much clearer idea of how to move the story forward and place the scene in such a spot that I can now have a tense moment of terror.

So sometimes going over what you've already done can open new avenues to explore if you're hitting a tough spot.  It also give you a chance to maybe lay the groundwork for new areas to explore later in the book thus getting you past that roadblock that's holding you up.  I don't recommend constantly going back to the beginning and trying to rewrite over and over again before you've finished your 1st draft.  Otherwise you'll never finish.  But every once in a while it may help so you can get to the end of your story.  THEN... you can start your 2nd or 3rd drafts with the major re-writes.

I hope this helps.  I'll be in touch again soon, provided work and moving doesn't slow me down.  Until then, keep writing everyone....