Knocking on the Story’s Door

I’m using this blog post in order to work my way through a writing barrier. It always helps to problem-solve through putting things into words.

The current work in progress is a dark story in a lot of ways, and draws from myths. I can see where it came from, during health issues and radiation and the ‘monsters’ we fight in all walks of our lives. I’ve put a lot of work into it and am at almost 80,000 words. The characters are joining up and I think I’m building toward the end, but there are still scenes to go.

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I’ve been fighting discouragement over the story because I can’t see the individual pieces as a whole. I’ve never written something where I have multiple points of view and multiple storylines. It’s been challenging to write, but up until now has also been fun because of that challenge. I work with one group of characters and if things slow down I can simply set them aside and move on to the next group. In a way it’s like writing several stories at once, with the fun of seeing how the threads all eventually tie together in the pattern of the story as a whole.

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I know how the story will end, and how all the pieces will eventually fit. But right now, writing the individual threads has become hard. I’m tired of fighting those threads, and want the lace fully woven.

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Added to that, I can see that a lot of editing will be needed. I’ll have to format the manuscript first, to put all the pieces in one place. I’ll then have to read it as the whole cloth and revise where threads don’t match, or where they pull away or snag. Plus the normal editing of things I fear I’ve ignored. For example, this is a story set in rain and woods, and yet my characters seem to be moving through it under invisible umbrellas, for as dry as they stay. Another example is that they are all dealing with the inciting incident, but smaller conflicts aren’t built up enough. So once the first draft is done, there’s still going to be a lot of work to do.

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And as if that wasn’t enough, a new story is tapping on the door of my imagination, trying to pull me through into its world.

I need to reignite my passion for the mythical story. I need to focus on it and quit looking for excuses to stop working on it in order to open the door wider to the new one.

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I’ve thought about taking parts of the current work to my critique group for review. But at least one person was uncomfortable with the selection I took last time because they don’t like scary things. And I have to ask myself this question: am I taking a piece there to be critiqued, or to have them tell me it’s awful so I can quit?

The thing is, it’s not awful. It’s rough and not great at the moment, but I think it’s going to be okay. I owe it to the characters, and the story, to finish it.

Which means I need to ignore the new one tapping at my imagination and immerse myself back in this myth, walk with these characters as they make their way through the mountains. I’m just not sure how to do it. If I take a break from this story, I’ll never go back to it.

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Okay, so I guess that means the solution is as simple as the old adage to put my butt in the chair and work.

Thanks for listening.

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4 thoughts on “Knocking on the Story’s Door

  1. Hmm…. let me see … I seem to recall some advice about what to do when things bogged down or get out of control: take a look at structure as opposed to plot points or other writerly things. Sometimes it is the goal-conflict-disaster, reaction-dilemma-decision parts that have taken an errant turn. You may find an “ah-ha!” in there somewhere. By all means, keep working on this one — I want to read it!!!!

    • Oh, I think it’s definitely the goal-conflict, etc. I think there’s not enough conflicts in the different groups and I think they are all running around doing the same thing. Dealing with the main conflict and reacting instead of acting. I think this one is going to have a lot of revising to do – more than any of the others I’ve written. I need to start a list of all the things that will need to be addressed.

      • I think multiple points of view are very difficult (I’ve never tried as many as you’re dealing with, though). Certainly, having a large cast of characters, as you have, being affected by the same (more or less) antagonist has its difficulties as well. I know there are plenty of movies that are based on such a premise but, not being much of a movie fan, I can’t think of any titles at the moment. The Lord of the Rings trilogy is the closest I can think of to your challenge — the book, not the movie. I think the movie left out too much! I wonder what Tolkien’s trick was for keeping track of it all!

      • Good question. It’s hard to keep the story lines individualized so it’s not the same thing happening over and over with just the names changed. That’s where the development of characters is so important and their conflicts within their groups. I’ve got the individualized part taken care of, but it needs beefing up and layering in of more conflicts.

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