Friday, November 23, 2012

The fight of the year

I swear, I don't think I've fought this much with a first draft... ever.

I think it's because the entire story is "so-unlike-me". It's a battle, twisting these characters out of my brain. Nothing comes naturally. They think differently, speak differently, behave differently, and I'm constantly questioning myself... am I doing this right? Is this correct? Is that how they'd really act/choose/argue/etc?

Don't get me wrong, I'm still having fun, I'm still enjoying the challenge of working on something difficult and unusual (for me), and I think I finally can appreciate the concept of *writer's block* a little more, because I don't think I've ever really had it before.

Sure, there have been plenty of times when I didn't know what would happening next in a story, but I would always just take a break and wait until the words came again, or I would jump ahead and write scenes I did know, and would figure out how to connect them up later.

I can't do that this time.

These characters are so different, I can't jump ahead because I really don't know how they would act... I don't know how they will get to where they need to go, and how they will have changed by the time they have gotten there.

I suppose, since I don't fully understand them, I don't have a clear idea of their character arcs.

...which never happens. Normally, I only need to get a few pages into a new story, and their arc is clear.

This time... I'm closing in on 20,000 words (don't ask what I should be at to *win* NaNo...) and I still don't know what major change they will go through. I don't know what they will have to give up/sacrifice, what wounds they will endure, what hard choices they will make...

I think this is the first time I have a better idea of what the plot is than what the characters *are*.

Probably, some of this not-knowing is because this is an unusually stressful/busy month for me, where my brain is only putting about 5% of its total energy into this story, as evident by my absurdly low word-count... but hey, I'm typing this from the ferry... again... because I haven't had a moment to write at home all week.

Changing the conditions will obviously change the outcome. In this case, since I seem to only get time to write on the ferry, a very public, noisy place,  when I normally I write at home in perfect solitude/silence/no distractions, my concentration level, and my writing, are obviously not going to be the same.

Strangely, I think because of the constant distractions, I'm finding it easier to write quick/argumentative dialogue and action sequences... maybe because of all the nose/activity, but it's much harder to keep track of things like emotional/personal changes/connections/etc.

Where do you normally write? Do you switch it up? Do you find it's easier to write some kind of scenes in specific circumstances, and other scenes in other places? How do you find writing in public vs. private spaces? Noise vs. quiet?


  1. It's fun to step out of your comfort zone sometimes :) Good luck with the drafting!

    I've found that I'm sometimes much more productive if I write outside of my routine. For example, I usually write on my laptop, so writing on my boyfriend's desktop can make me more productive. Sometimes I'll scribble out a particularly difficult scene long-hand in a notebook and then transcribe it -- I did the last 3rd of Nezumi's Children that way very successfully.

    And it's pretentious, but I really love writing in coffee shops. Since I'm usually broke, sometimes I go to libraries to do it instead. I wrote an entire chapter of Tagestraum at a McDonald's once. It was Monopoly season so I bought a $1 drink with a sack of pennies and won a free medium fries. Made my whole day ;)

    1. That's cool :) I've never tried to write long-hand, but that's mostly because I can't read my own handwriting ;)

      Heh... I like the taste of McD's coffee waaaaaaay better than Starbucks, so that's pretty awesome :)

  2. hate to say this from one panster to another, but as I'm finding out on my nano, plot it out... I know what you're saying --I couldn't just write my story either, I knew where I wanted to end up and why, granted you don't know that yet maybe, so when I prepared for NaNo which was something so new to me, I ploted and outlined. Then when I started to write I let my fingers do their thing within the plot structure. It's working well and I'm up to the last what i thought last chapter but need another last chapter this nano experience was something so new to me but I will finish and my deadline is next thursday :D

    1. Maybe you've got more plotter than pantser in you then? Planning out future scenes and writing to them :) Whatever it is, is sounds like it's working for you, so that's most excellent :)

  3. I suspect we are in the same boat. I realized (far too late into the story) that the final 20K simply don't work at all and I need to re-do some serious aspects of the setting from scratch. To say nothing of reworking one major character (though not the MC) from the ground up.

    On the plus side, the setting will no longer be semi-post Disaster. On the downside, all the effort that into making said setting make sense is now utterly wasted :)

    1. Ha!'re ONLY tossing out 20,000 words? Isn't that, in itself, progress? ;)

      Hmmm, I kind of like that it's not semi-post-Disaster...

      ...and I assume this is about the ghoul-story, right? Which I absolutely LOVE the voice!!!

    2. Ghoul one, yup. I'm starting the second version of it today, which I've never done for anything. The character is just too much fun to write.

  4. Yeah, been there and it can get rough. But keep at it and you'll find your way...I know, such cliche advice. I'm just over 25,000 words and I'm pretty such I won't be getting to 50,000. I tried, I really tried, but it was a much more active month than I had assumed it would be.

    1. I think I'm going to shoot for a half-NaNo, which is what I've done the past 5 or 6 years. If I can get another 5,000 words in the next couple of days, I think I'll be happy with that :)

      November IS a crazy month...

  5. Replies
    1. I got back LATE Sunday night... yesterday was a flurry of picking up pets, re-stocking the 'fridge, and other *fun* chores that have to be done ;)

      ...most of today is going to be spent shopping for some essentials... like kitchen utensils/pots/pans/etc.


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