Thursday, July 18, 2013

Why Can't I Just Move On?

I’d planned on posting on another subject today, but the hell with it—I’m going to whine about my own writing woes. It’ll make me feel better. :)

As you may know, I’ve been concentrating on my own original story (not the fan fiction) for the last several months—a story I started writing for last year’s NaNoWriMo. I felt pretty good about it at the time and I managed to write over 25k words before deciding the plot needed some revamping. Unfortunately, although I’ve dedicated myself to this story for the last several months, the writing has gone absolutely nowhere.

What’s the problem? I’m stuck on the first chapter, and have been for the last two months. I’ve approached it from several different angles, but as of today I still haven’t come up with a beginning I’m comfortable with. And it’s driving me bonkers.

I’m sure many of you would argue there’s no point in spending all this time on the first chapter, since I’ll probably end up rewriting it after I finish the first draft anyway. And I would agree with you, except that I’m finding it impossible to move on without some sort of closure. I can’t explain why my mind works this way, but I have to know how the first chapter ends before I can concentrate on the second chapter. Believe me, I’ve tried. Argggh!

So everyday I try something new, waiting for that beginning I know is buried in there somewhere. I realize I’m going to solve this eventually. It’s just frustrating to watch the weeks go by with nothing to show for my time.

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This month hasn’t been all bad news, however. My family and I just returned from a five day vacation in southern Ohio. It was a great time, and we took lots of pictures, although I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t write a single word during that time. I was just too busy. Or tired.

I also won a contest hosted by Jami Gold. If you aren’t reading her blog, you should. Her site is loaded with all sorts of great advice about writing.

9 comments:

  1. I feel for you, Ken. And I can't go anywhere until I've written my first chapter. But you are on to something when you say that you'll probably rewrite it, possibly more than once (I've just rewritten my first chapter for the 6th time!). Knowing that everything gets changed and rewritten doesn't ease the "I'm screwing it up" feeling that comes with writing anxiety. My best advice is go for the opening scene that gives you the most. Pick an emotion that you're going for and hit it out of the park. I know, easier said than done, but what I see a lot of people do (myself included) is put a ton of pressure on themselves to get it right. It doesn't have to be right: it has to exist.
    Write the best chapter you can at the moment and say "you're the best I could do right now. I'll make you better later, but now I have to write chapter 2."

    Also, give yourself permission to change. If you're going to revise at any point along the way, let your self change major things that you note right in the manuscript. I've gone along and changed who my antagonist was mid novel and just wrote a note "Sebastian is the red herring, and George is the serial killer."
    Then on I went, not revising anything until after I'd finished that draft.

    Everyone works different though, so I understand if you have to find your own way. I'm just trying to share what works for me. In the end you'll find your own process.

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    1. Well after thinking about it for a while, I think I've come up with yet another way to begin the story. One of my CPs likes it, so we'll see what happens. Thanks for the inspirational comment.

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  2. If anyone can help you with your story, it's Jami. She's the plot whisperer. ;)

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    1. Well, I was one of the winners in her Blogiversary contest. So maybe I'll choose to brainstrom with her as my prize.

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  3. All right, it's time to resend the chapter to me. You need a boost. This is critique group week so I'll be critiquing for my group anyway.

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  4. I totally relate to this. With my two finished novels, the first chapter is still the part I like the least and have rewritten most. Maybe try reading a load of first chapters of novels and note what aspects most grab you - bullet point your own chapter against those points and move on. As has been said already, you'll no doubt revise the chapter when you've finished anyway. Although I'm not the best person to give advice - I've hit a wall revising my third novel because I've decided the protagonist's name doesn't suit her but can't settle on a new one! The Muse is fickle.

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    1. Ha! I'm well into the editing stage of my fan fiction story and half my characters still don't have names. It's so hard to choose! thanks for stopping by.

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  5. Ack! How did I miss this? :) Thanks for the shout out!

    And this post might have given me an idea for the guest post I owe you. I'll email you. ;)

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