Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Getting past a Road Block?

Paula wonders: At what point do you abandon a story?
On Monday, Ana wrote about the return of her creative muse. I only wish I knew where mine was right now! I’m struggling with ‘Different Worlds’, a story I started nearly two years ago. I got to Chapter 13, decided it wasn’t working, and started to rewrite. The second re-write seemed to going better. I changed quite a lot and reached Chapter 15, but still wasn’t happy with it. Last November I put it on the back burner and started to write ‘Irish Inheritance’ instead – and submitted that at the end of August.
In September, I returned to ‘Different Worlds’. I’ve analysed the characters, I’ve worked out where I want to go with it, I’ve edited and re-edited most of the early chapters, but I’m still not happy.
A year ago, when I was seriously thinking of dumping the story, I sent the first 15 chapters to a reviewer friend who offered to read them. She loved what I'd written, said she’d already fallen in love with my hero, and urged me to continue the story.
Despite that, my mind is still saying, ‘There’s something wrong somewhere’. But I can’t put my finger on that ‘something’.
As a result, I’ve started to dread opening up the document. I’ve probably added less than 100 words in total during the past week.
Now I’m at the stage of wondering whether to persevere with this story or whether to abandon it completely. The thing is, though, I know there is a good story there somewhere, but somehow I can’t find my way through all the details. I thought about writing the resolution of the story and then working my way backwards, but I found I couldn’t do that, which probably means I am a linear writer, who needs to develop the characters and plot chronologically. I can't write 'stand-alone' scenes without knowing what has gone before.
So my question is – how do I get myself past the road block that seems to barring my way ahead? How do I find that ‘something’ that currently eludes me? I know one answer is to write something else and then come back to it, but I’ve tried that and it hasn’t worked.
Any ideas gratefully accepted!


  1. Keep at it, Paula.
    From what I know about DW, the hero is a dream. The heroine is believable and interesting. They both have issues. You have the beginning and know how you want it to end.
    I'd say work from both ends until the dots are connected.

  2. Glad you like the characters, Ana!
    I tried writing the ending (or at least the beginning of the ending!) but couldn't do it, as I needed to know what had happened to bring them to that point.

  3. Paula, I'm right with you. I'm struggling with my current WIP. I know my characters and their story but the words aren't flowing onto the screen. Very frustrating. I've talked with my CP's, tried the plotting board and I'm still at a loss. Going away this weekend on a writing retreat and hoping to find my characters again. Maybe putting the story on the back burner and working on something else is the key. Maybe then the characters will get jealous and yell at us to come back. Keep writing, that's my only advice.

  4. Jody, it's consoling to realise everyone has the same problems at times. I shelved this one for 12 months but my characters still haven't sorted themselves out!
    Many thanks for visiting!

  5. I know you focus on knowing your characters, but have you looked at the conflict? Are you sure the conflict is strong enough?

  6. There have been several 'minor' conflicts, but it's the build up to the 'big' conflict that's causing me problems!

  7. Paula,

    That can be so frustrating. I wish I had some good advice, but it's been ages since I've written anything myself.

    I do tend to use a non-linear approach when I do write and write scattered scenes as they come to me and then connect the dots.

    Or perhaps shortening the story to a novella rather than a full-length?

  8. It's interesting that you use non-linear, Debra. I tried to write some later scenes but found I couldn't write them in isolation.
    The novel's already over 40K words - too long for a novella!