Weekend Struggles

This weekend was all about Pitch Wars, or more specifically, making needed changes to SHADE to get it ready for the final round of Pitch Wars. But good gracious, was SHADE frustrating the jujubes out of me!

I had lots of ideas, but was lacking in the rights ones for the first chapter. I know I could work on other parts of the book in the meantime to give myself a rest (and I did do a little outlining) but here’s the thing for me: I have to have at least scaffolding up in the beginning so I can see where the story is going in later chapters. Editing is like time traveling, alter one thing and the future may be completely different.

A lot of changes hinged on the first chapter, hence the frustration. Something I like to do when I need to change up a scene, is outline a bunch of different possibilities and see where they lead. It’s kind of like pantsing before the writing. I follow the path until I hit a roadblock, something that must be altered in the future to make sense. Then I have to decide if I want the story to head in that direction or not.

Now this isn’t my first fight with a story. This is usually what happens and certainly what happened over the summer. So I knew eventually something good would come of it. But it was getting frustrating, I think, because Saturday was my big free day for writing and as the evening wore on and I realized I probably wouldn’t get beyond Chapter One, my frustration level rose as well.

The trouble is it’s hard to ask for any kind of advice on these sorts of things. Who knows your story better than you?

Needless to say, after more than 12 hours of struggle, I pulled something out, some scaffolding I’m fairly satisfied with. It was odd, because it was a direction I’d wanted to implement over the summer, but it never quite came out, so I didn’t go with it. This time I think it may work better and will make my MC’s reactions a little more logical.

So the struggle, in the end, was worth it.

Fortunately I have the day off work tomorrow for New Year’s, so hopefully I can move forward in more significant waysβ€”at least significant in writing vs. plotting. There may be another struggle ahead, but the nice thing about overcoming one challenge is you know it’s possible to defeat the next one.

Have you had any struggles in your writing lately that frustrated you to the max? What do you do when you have a challenge you need to overcome? If you ask friends for advice, what do you find is the best way to ask for it?


27 thoughts on “Weekend Struggles

  1. The bigger the struggle, the more satisfying the result. When I struggle, I immerse myself in whatever is causing the struggle. When characters were vexing me, I dedicated a whole month to them on my blog. Sometimes the best way to discover something is by standing still and simply looking. Most of the time the answer we seek is right in front of us, we just aren’t ready to see it yet.

    I’m sure you’ll do well with the edits. If not, you can always try again. Good luck.

    • Thanks! And thanks for always encouraging me. Sometimes it’s nice to just see that you likely are headed in the right direction, I feel like that’s what your advice did for me. πŸ™‚

  2. I hate that stage in the process. It’s so tiring to look and say “I’m 50 pages past it. The whole story could be so much better with this change, but that means I might have to scrap the last ten pages or so or drastically change it.” However, it’s often worth it.

    • Amen, sista! That’s what I had to face this summer. I took a couple weeks to kill lots of demons (Diablo 3) and then owned up to the task and got a much better story from it. Glad someone else is in it with me at times. πŸ˜€

  3. When I ask my friends for help, first I check their time limitations (most are usually at work when I am writing). Then I state my intent. Once I get the go ahead, then I fit the problem to the time amount. I’d say half the time they have me talk it out myself (they ask questions that clarify things). The other half of time is divided up into being solved by links, advice, or us reaching a consensus of some sort (like Dragon’s Blood is an awesome resin). Fact is, at least once a week my chat program is filled with writer problems (mine or a friend’s). That’s pretty much how we all roll.

    • Yeah, I saw on your blog you were feeling the same kinds of frustration. Seriously, I’m starting to think when I heard some author say she’d probably gone through 20 drafts before publication that she wasn’t kidding.

      By the way, maybe it’s just my browser, but did you disable comments on your blog? Obviously it’s personal choice whether or not you want comments, but I tend to find blogs I can’t really interact with I don’t visit as much. It’s all about making room for conversation. (Even if it’s just hitting the like button, like many of us do here on WP.) Just making mention. I’ve actually used both Blogger and WP and I prefer WP hands down. If you ever wanted to make the switch πŸ˜‰ not that you have to of course, but it just seems like views are easier to come by here. Again, just making mention. πŸ˜‰

      Either way, glad someone else out there feels my pain. Hopefully we’ll get out stories figured out for 2013. πŸ˜€

  4. I try not to let writing really frustrate me. When I do have struggles, like with the novel I am working on now, I’m not sure I want my character to swear or not…well, specifically use the F word, so I emailed my editor for advice. Ultimately I am going to have to go with my gut, which is I don’t like swearing. It will probably be changed to something less severe or lessened in quantity.

    • Personally, I think the F word is way overused and usually shows the writer lacks creativity in creating the same kind of tension and shock value. I think you’re fine not to use it. I guarantee you’ll never see a novel coming from me with that word in it. A lot of my favorite villains don’t use foul language to intimidate, they use their presence. Obviously I don’t know the use for your story, but I’m willing to bet if you put your mind to it you can come up with something far more clever and more interesting. Something that expresses that same emotion but in a much more meaningful way. It’s like the movie Fargo for me. I’ve seen it edited and unedited and I loathe the unedited version. The F bomb is almost the only dialogue for the whole movie. It’s almost like the whole violence for the sake of violence thing. It’s boring and obnoxious. Taken out (aka the edited version) it’s like I can finally get to the actual movie.

      Okay, I’m probably ranting way more than I should. What I hoped to accomplish was support in your decision. I don’t think you have to lessen your quality. In fact, I think you can make it better. Good luck, you can do this!

      • I completely agree. Swears usually make my head snap back, and I find the S word suffices just the same, but is a bit less harsh…So I suppose that just as similes are an author’s bail out, swears can be too. I appreciate your candor on the subject! It validates how I was feeling.

      • F****** A ladies, I totally agree with you.

        Sorry, couldn’t resist πŸ™‚

        I follow Stephen Kings advice- if your characters would swear in real life, they should swear in your book. You shouldn’t add too much swearing, but neither must you go out of your way to censor yourself.

  5. “Editing is like time travelling, alter one thing and the future may be completely different.”
    I love that sentence, as it sums up how fragile a plot can be. Glad to hear you got over your problem.
    I think sometimes I’m a little afraid to edit because I don’t know where to start – like typical procrastination, it’s all in the mind and the beginning.

    • You can do “find and replace” on some phrases, like “seemed to” “began to” “there was” “there were” as most of the time these are unneeded. I usually edit starting at the end of the chapter and go back page by page. I also read it out loud. I’ve caught loads of typos and poor sentence structure that way.

      • That’s true; I hadn’t thought of that.
        This may seem (oh dear; I do use that phrase a lot in casual conversation!) a silly question, but what is/are the best way(s) to replace ‘there was’ and similar? Or is it best just to remove them?

      • Obviously it depends on the sentence, but for example if you had: There was a gunshot. If you instead restructured it to say: A gunshot split the air. <–then it's a little stronger. Often with "began to" and "seemed to" you can just delete them. In fact, if you can and the sentence still makes sense you probably should. Just take a look at the sentence and say, How can I make this more active? There was/were, it was/were etc. is passive. It's not necessarily terrible, but the point is to polish up your sentences so that your reader doesn't notice they're reading and gets completely absorbed in the story.

      • I don’t know why I didn’t see your comment before, but that’s really good advice. You’re right; I went through and looked to all twenty five ‘began to’ phrases, seeing that most I could delete straight away and make the following verb the finite one.
        Once again, thanks for the tips!

  6. Ah, to read another writer’s angst over theirs story and the directions it could take. All I can say is: I loved this post! Now I know that seems kind of mean but look at it from my perspective: now I know I’m not the only one that goes bonkers over her WIP! πŸ˜‰

    To answer your question, I just go with what feels right. This is the first time I’ve plotted completely before writing and it was much simpler than I’d thought it would be. Just go with your gut. And the people talking in your head are helpful too, you should listen to them. πŸ˜‰

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