I’ve been out – that’s why I’m late in this morning (and I bet you thought I was sleeping in) – we had to pick our car up first thing this morning from a garage next town over and be there RIGHT at the time I normally post.
Of course it might have helped to organize something yesterday afternoon for this morning and let the automatic posting-timing-thing take over this morning (I haven’t used that yet), but I was writing, instead, and I’m sure you’ll forgive me that one. I also didn’t know there car would be ready until late yesterday.
Hi All. Yes, I’m back, having enjoyed a wonderful time out from my usual routine – I hope those of you able to take a break also enjoyed a safe and happy holiday, and that you’re all fit and well and happy – See how cheery I sound? This must be good for me. I will endeavor to spread it around.
With Easter holidays upon us, I am taking a break from blogging for about ten days – this means I am also taking a break from Blogsville.
This does not mean I will be taking a break from writing.
Having fun when you write is essential – Yes, I know, sometimes tears are important too, and energy and emotion and strength and perseverance, but in any endeavor, having fun keeps you going more than any other of those things.
So, what happens when you’ve hit a rough spot or an insolvable problem and after weeks or maybe even months, you feel like you’re banging your head against the wall and wishing you’d never started the dang project? How do you get the fun back into the equation?
We all try all the different things that can be done in that situation. We take a day or more away. Or we try to force our way through it. Or we try logic and mapping out all the pros and cons, all the paths available, all the ways that might deliver what we need most – that troublesomely rare and elusive solution.
Sometimes we quit. Sometimes we sleep on it. Sometimes we hand it over to our characters.
Forcing a character to come up with their own solution is not the same as leaving that character to find their own solution. The first – demanding a character take over – leaves you (the writer) still in the situation of having to solve a problem. You’re still at your desk. The second – leaving that character to do it alone – has you (the explorer) treating your character as a viable being and being prepared to engage with them. You’ve entered their world.
The moment you start to wonder how the character would go about it, something happens on a subconscious level. In effect, you slip from your desk and enter the character’s world where their worry is not how you will solve a problem. Their worry is ground-level. It’s right there and if their problem is particularly serious, they are going to die unless they work it out.
They’re not working with words. They’re looking around for a lump of driftwood to use as a weapon, or they’re tearing curtains into strips to weave together into a rope, or they’re trying to learn how to fly the dang helicopter. Whatever. They’re not interested in telling a story, they’re interested in survival.
It’s easy to be focused on your main characters and to put your creative energy as a writer into just those characters you adore – the Good Guy and the Bad Guy, mainly – and leave until last (or leave out altogether) the small guys and gals that provide background support.
I’ve read a lot of books over the years and have seen lots of variation. I have seen books where the reader got the full life history of every single character, none of them important to the plot and none of them having anything to do with any of the others, until the plane crash or motorway multiple collision – some big accident, anyway – at the end of the book (the one you were shown a glimpse of at the beginning of the book). Basically, those books seem to be an exercise in writing characters, not plots, and I’m afraid they don’t do much for me.
I’ve also seen my fair share of Main Character in all his/her glory, right down to zits and all their foibles – completely and totally surrounded by 2D nothing characters that might have been made of cardboard.
There is life in between. It doesn’t have to be a giant pain and it doesn’t have to be ignored, either.
You can flesh out a character with a word or two. Flashes of human feeling or an expressive action will do it. Very simple things can do it.
Having a routine of writing is a good thing, not many will disagree with that – yes, at times a writer does need to step away for some breathing space or to just take stock (or stare at the skyline for inspiration), and other times writer’s block with upset your flow, your balance and no doubt raise your blood pressure – All that aside, some sort of writing routine is a hugely beneficial.
The actual writing part of the project can slide away from you very quickly. Your head might be full of ideas, a full-blown movie going on in your mind, but somehow putting it together in actual words gets postponed again and again, and the longer you leave it, the harder it gets.
It all becomes very “One day…”
A writing routine will help keep you a little bit on track.
If you’re anything like me, you would have started off your writer’s life by writing when the inspiration grabbed you, going like crazy for days or weeks, then somehow losing the motivation and it all settles back into your mind and you’re left there, not crafting words anymore.
If you haven’t written to a routine before, you will find it’s not as easy as it sounds. Writing on demand triggers rebellion. You’ll stare at the blank screen and hate it. Or you’ll put a couple of words down and say, “There! It’s done!” (Okay, okay, so maybe you won’t, you get my drift.)
I’ve got to stop getting up in the middle of the night – evenings are quiet, the household is usually asleep and there are no chores to do, so if I’m awake at all, I think, I plot, I work out dialogue and action scenes, and I usually end up sitting at the computer capturing what gems that came along.
This morning it was 2:30 when I got up, and I got a couple of pages of good detailed writing done. Greg starts his day at 4:30 a.m., which generally means if I’m up early, I stay up, which I did, then went back to bed and fell asleep.
I write in threads and layers, keeping it all balanced for easier reading and flow, so when someone or something is accidentally left out, it means a thread transplant, carrying all the hooks and tendrils (like timeframes) that feed into the surrounding threads, and placing it further along – Landing it takes as much thought, taking into account the new surroundings while paying attention to what is happening upstream and downstream in the thread itself.
Guess what? Yes, I did. That’s exactly what happened just this morning. I had a handful of events in there so, no, not forgotten, except that I woke up at 2:30 this morning with a sneaking suspicion that one of my threads in the manuscript I’m working on (book 3 in the Khekarian series, The Bastard Line) was out of order.
And I knew where and how.
I got up at once, of course, there’s no point leaving things if you know what must be done. I found it at once. I had secured in place events that were in the wrong order but, because of surrounding events, could not merely be swapped about.
Basically a representative had arrived and was in place exactly where he needed to be before it was known that he needed to be sent – That’s the equivalent of giving birth before you’re pregnant.
So far, so good, I had a fantastic day yesterday with lots of editing, rewriting, reweaving and writing fresh material and the manuscript grew 14 pages (currently sitting at 215) – I’m well into my note files now, but there’s plenty still in there so I expect another good day today and tomorrow and on into next week.
It’s also the weekend here, which means I slept in, and find myself (yet again) racing against the clock (to get this blog post done). :)
Finally solved some pesky little problem with chapter layouts, making it easier to move forward with the plot (there’s been some delay over the past few weeks and months while I dealt with life in general and things outside the story), and so I am rolling forward once again – I feel a good day coming on. :D