Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Getting out of a jam

I'm making a promise to myself that I can't post more here until I write the next paragraph of my recent story. I've written myself into a corner, and my solution lately has been to not think about it. But, I'm excited about the piece as a whole. I know I just have to press on. So, if you don't hear from know why!

Okay, the paragraph is a little clunky, but at least I got the story going again. I was in a jam, I think, because I am writing this story in first person, and it has been a long while since I did that. I started the story with a bunch of telling. "My name is so-and-so. I work doing such-and-such..." and I was having a hard time transitioning from that sort of declaritive voice to one that brought the reader into more of a scene.

My solution was to write a hybrid paragraph to make the transition smoother. "I was doing such-and-such when I met a person named so-and-so. So-and-so worked in a desk in the same office as me. It was the fifth floor of a squat building bustling with people."

I'm not sure this transition paragraph has much emotional impact, but I'll go with it for now. But, I find lately that I'm revising much more as I go along than I used to. I haven't done a vomit draft in awhile.

Has your technical approach to writing changed much from when you started? Do you outline now when you didn't before? Do you revise now when you didn't before? Do you let your writing rest longer than you used to?


  1. Well, I hope you find the way out of the corner soon because we'll miss you around here.

  2. Great idea, Domey. I'm considering a blogging hiatus until I sort out the entire plot dilemma of my WIP. Perhaps, it's the only way I won't find excuses.

  3. When I write myself into a corner, I set the writing aside for a day or so and then . . . I go back to the point before I wrote myself in a corner and, well, begin rewriting.

    Normally, I've written myself in a corner because I had the characters do things they normally wouldn't do. When I redirect their actions, things seem to flow away form the corner and back to where they should have been in the first place.

    Good luck.


  4. I outline more than I did before. I've found that it helps me not waste time if I at least have an idea where I'm going.

  5. My technical approach to the craft of writing is so different than it used to be it shocks me sometimes.

    I used to get apoplectic at the thought of outlining, and now I think that a loose outline is essential for my novel writing.

    I still can't bring myself to do a vomit draft, but I do force myself to go on before I've attained perfection. I used to worry over everything before I could move on.

    When it's time for a formal revision, I used to go in looking for ways to improve the specific writing. Now, the first thing I look for is things I can cut or rearrange in chunks.

    My stylistic defaults have all changed, too. I used to default to 3rd person omniscient with a lot of detail and scene-setting. Now, I start with first-person intimate with a spartan touch for setting. Having a different starting point not only means that my challenges and solutions are different, but it has dramatically altered the way my prose is produced. I honestly think I'm using a different part of my brain when I write than I used (at least in part).

    Oh, and I always used to draft long-hand, but I later realized that it was more of a crutch than anything. So I don't do that anymore.

  6. Yes, I'm outlining more now but it is still to be determined if it actually helps. I know that stuck feeling. Oh, yes, I know it well.

  7. Anne, thanks! I did manage to get SOMETHING down, as you can see. Although now I'm tempted to delete it!

    Tricia, I new I needed some sort of push! I think part of my problem was that I got some positive feedback on the first couple of pages, and that only made me more scared to screw up the story. Fear never helps.

    Thanks, Scott. I did give this bit of writing some time, but I figured I was just avoiding it out of fear at this point. I needed to confront it again. And, I'm still definitely getting to know the character. I've just met her.

    Lois, nice new flower! I still don't outline very much, but I do it much more often than I used to. I find it gives me a quick way to look at the story as a whole to decide if it's something I want to work on or not.

  8. Nevets, wow! That's quite a transformation. It does seem like you would produce very different writing compared to what you created before. (I guess that's only if you believe the process affects the product.) I'm also a lot more prone to revising in big chunks early on these days. That's a fun part for me.

    Tess, you'll have to keep us updated about whether or not the outlining works! I'm still mixed on it now myself, but I do find myself writing three quick phrases for the beginning, middle, and end of my stories to see if all three parts exist.

  9. Little things about my approach change from novel to novel, but overall I still start with the last image of the book, ask myself how things could have gotten there, and build up a story through outlining and then write. My approach to short stories is up in the air, which could be why my short stories aren't as good as my novels; I have no idea what I'm doing there. With my current book, which is almost ready to go out to my agent (this weekend, damn it!), I find that I'm sort of flipping through the pages at random, going back and forth, and seeing if there's anything I don't like and changing it. The version I have sent you is, of course, already outdated in at least one significant way.

    Mostly, I'd say that I write on a more regular schedule nowadays. I build it into my normal routine and it feels weird when I'm not writing. I am also increasingly merciless in my revisions.

  10. The way I write a book has changed dramatically over the past years, but it still feels like my own writing. I haven't changed, just how I go about things. I do outline more now - it's necessary, and I always edit as I go. I finally feel like I've found a great way to write that works for me. It's a nice feeling. :)

    Congrats on your paragraph!

  11. Scott, That's interesting. I know you've described starting from the last image before. It's totally opposite from what I do, but I think your stories have the best endings. I've looked to much of your work to try and figure out how to keep my endings from sucking.

    I'm usually pretty regular in my writing too. It does feel funny when I miss a day, unless I'm so swamped with other work that I don't notice.

    Michelle, I get what you mean. I do feel like my writing is changing as I evolve, but I try to hold on to some of the old things about my writing that I like. It feels like more of a conscious effort at the moment. I'm waiting for it to be easier!

  12. I haven't written an outline for my NaNoWriMo novel yet, and I suspect this is one reason I've only written 400 words. Well, that and the fact that it is on the bottom of my list of priorities of Things I Must Do Or Risk Bodily Harm To Myself.


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