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Tuesday, September 13, 2011
8:01 PM | Posted by Marnee Bailey | | Edit Post
I’m cruising, crew. I just topped 68K words on my WIP Monday night. Whoot!
But I’ve stopped again. Hopefully it’s just a short pause on the road to the end. I realized that my hero has a case of wanderlust and I never realized it. I had him being a responsible, take-care-of-home kind of guy. He IS like that, but his desire to take care of his family wars with his desire to get away from them. I just didn’t realize it until Monday night as I was about to write the black moment. He felt like a puppet doing the stuff I wanted him to do and then it hit me. So, now I have to go back through and put that in so I have the backstory I need to write the end.
Before everyone starts jumping from the yardarm and swinging from the masts yelling, “Just vomit it out” or “REVISE LATER” or something similar, I thought I’d share something I’ve figured out about my writing through the course of this story.
In all my stories, I stop in similar spots. I really noticed it this time because two times is a fluke; three is a habit. So, when I stopped at the 45K mark again, I thought to myself, “Wait a goshdarn minute” (I edited to keep this PG) “I stopped here the last two times.”
I started taking note of why I stop at the same places. Am I a creature of habit? (Yes.) Is this some sort of self-fulfilling prophecy? (Maybe? There is no spoon, there is no spoon.) Could I have avoided these delays? (Oh fine, maybe.)
To figure this out, I stopped focusing on the negative times (ie, “Why in the name of cheese sandwiches am I stopping again!?”) and started focusing on the positive times (ie, “A HA! I’ve figured this out. I am Queen of the World!” *Titanic music swells, fade to me on the front of the ship pretending I’m an airplane, making bad airplane sound effects*)
My conclusion: I stop when something is off with one of my characters. Almost exclusively.
I’m a plotter. I’ve already decided all the external events of the story. Whether it’s Colonel Mustard with the candlestick or Miss Scarlet with the gun. What I don’t know is how my characters react to all these external factors. So, for example, 45K is about mid-point crisis in my stories (give or take a few thousand words one way or the other). I need to think hard about how my characters are going to react. Then I have to decide if it’s authentic, if I pulled any punches. The entire story is me learning about them, getting to know them, seeing how these two people are going to grow through the circumstances I’ve set up. Sometimes it takes me a week (or month) to figure out their reactions to major events.
Therefore, it seems, I’m an external factor plotter but an internal crisis pantser. And, apparently, my brain doesn’t deal with the pantsy part well. It bulks, it downshifts. It grinds away until it makes sense of all the facts in the universe again. Then it lets me move forward.
My pause Monday? I’m about to write the black moment, as mentioned. Something wasn’t sitting right with my hero. So I paused to reevaluate him. I think it’ll be a quick fix.
My takeaway? Next time I stop, just go directly to character. Don’t even stop at that, “This story sucks, I suck, everything sucks, die-in-a-fiery-ball” place. It’s just a sludge pit that slows me down on the way to character. And that place is no fun anyway.
So what about you guys? When you stop in the middle of a WIP, why do you stop? Is it for plot, for character? To reevaluate some other aspect? What usually gets you going again?
Labels: Gunner's Grumblings (Marnee)