Stuck at the 1/3rd way mark

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Jaya
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Stuck at the 1/3rd way mark

Post by Jaya » October 1st, 2010, 11:40 am

I'm stuck. I started a project in late august that just flew from my head and my fingers. I wrote 30,000 words in less than 2 weeks. The words and scenes just kept coming. Suddenly, after 30,000 words I went blank. I closed it up. Saved it. In september, I moved on, wrote a 45,000 (crappy, but practice) middle grade type of novel, and a couple of short stories.
I told myself I would attack this WIP again on October 1st. And devote October to it entirely. I felt so strongly about in back in August, and when I reviewed the first 1/3rd, I thought some of it was cringe-worthy, but some of it might be even decent. So, I feel compelled to keep going with it.
Well, I sat down and just wrote today. I tried to outline and I draw a blank. So I just wrote. I wrote about 1500 words, but it was forced and it was hard. And its okay I guess, but not what I anticipated originally for the story. Worse, I have no idea how it will proceed, or if the idea is too ridiculous given the tone of the first bit I wrote. And it gets worse, I have no idea how I would stretch it to 80-90,000 words (as such a novel might have to be in order to be credible).
I'm blank and I've lost that clear focus and magic that I felt in the first 1/3rd. Someone told me that this often happens with writers because at the 30,000-ish mark, you get into the real "meat" of the story. And I 'm afraid I have no meat. Really.
What should I do? Just continue to devote myself to in october anyway, and write on it each day, even if it is all crap? Or completely abandon the idea and instead take bits and pieces of it to form a short story or something for submission somewhere? It seems like it could be a good overall project, but I've lost the interest and drive. But I already shelved it in september, and I don't want to keep letting it hang "for later". Either do it or don't do it and get it out of my head.
I think I need to bounce it off other people maybe. Have them read it or ask what they think about the next direction I just started taking it into. But I have no really close friends, and I don't want to spill it all out on forums either.
I realize this is a mess of thoughts. If nothing else, at least I have just vented my frustrations. Maybe not the best place to do it. Sorry.

Netti
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Re: Stuck at the 1/3rd way mark

Post by Netti » October 1st, 2010, 12:05 pm

Try freewriting or that clustering thing where you right a word then another word that you associate with the first, etc (bad explanation, sorry). If you feel so strongly about it, don't give up yet, but recognize that at some point you may have to. Maybe you could also try reading books similar to yours.

Sorry I couldn't be more helpful.
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Holly
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Re: Stuck at the 1/3rd way mark

Post by Holly » October 1st, 2010, 12:07 pm

I found my story when I wrote a one page synopsis. It helped me much more than a detailed outline. Once I replaced the meandering mush with the conflict I really wanted to write about, the other plot problems fell in line. Summarize your plot and themes in one page and you might see where you need to go. Good luck.

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Re: Stuck at the 1/3rd way mark

Post by Margo » October 1st, 2010, 12:08 pm

Relax. It's okay to vent. Deep breaths.

You mentioned you'd tried outlining but drew a blank. I'm going to suggest you try a Borg style outline (a la James Scott Bell) or a variation of the Snowflake Method. They are very similar.

1) Start broad. Who's your hero? Who or what is s/he? What is the problem s/he faces?

2)Take it down a level. What is your inciting incident? What is your first plot point (the point at which your character discovers what the problem REALLY is)? What is your second plot point (the all hope is lost, I'm givin up point)? How does your story resolve itself?

3)Take it down a level. Write a paragraph about Act I, Act II, and Act II. These will be divided by the first and second plot point.

4)Take it down a level. Write a paragraph about what happens in each chapter.

5)Take it down a level....

You get the idea. If you reach a step and you feel comfortable going back to the writing, don't worry about continuing the outline. See if the writing is flowing again. If not, go back to the outline and take it down another level.
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Aimée
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Re: Stuck at the 1/3rd way mark

Post by Aimée » October 1st, 2010, 12:37 pm

I'm at the same place as you are right now. 35K and with nothing else to write. I've been editing what I have for a few months, but nothing much has come to mind as to what I should add to the story. It is definitely not done, so I guess the only way to write anything new is to just write, like you said you did. You can edit later. It's way harder than it sounds, since I have that internal editor that edits as I go along, but it's pretty much the only way. Hope that helps???

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polymath
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Re: Stuck at the 1/3rd way mark

Post by polymath » October 1st, 2010, 1:40 pm

Focusing on the main dramatic complication might break the impasse. If there's one introduced in the opening, it's best to realize it throughout. The third of the way mark in a narrative is when the complication is best fully realized and efforts to address it are underway. The halfway mark is when efforts to address a complication are greatest, its outcome is most in doubt, antagonism's purpose and complication are in greatest opposition, and most if not all salient information about the complication is known. Then the latter quarter act is coming to terms with, resolving, or accommodating to the complication. With the ending being the final outcome of the main dramatic complication.

Conflict resolution ending narratives are about problem solving, complication solving. Revelation endings are about personal transformation caused by life-redefining complications. Conflict resolution narratives are a significant majority of the narrative canon. Revelation narratives appreciably less so, though more common in the literary canon. I'm partial to narratives that do both.
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Jaligard
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Re: Stuck at the 1/3rd way mark

Post by Jaligard » October 1st, 2010, 2:53 pm

Having gotten stuck at the 1/3 mark (or earlier) several times, I tried a new technique with my latest project. I broke the novel into scenes and just wrote the scene that most intrigued me every day. Slowly but surely, I filled the novel in. The trick was writing what I wanted, and writing *every* day. On the tough days, I wrote less, but I still wrote.

Dearth of Reason
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Re: Stuck at the 1/3rd way mark

Post by Dearth of Reason » October 1st, 2010, 4:42 pm

I agree with the techniques outlined above as potentially very helpful. At the same time I think practical techniques are treating the symptom, but they may not help you get relief at the source. Maybe you spend a lot of time thinking through, mapping, and refining the motivations of each of your characters. If so, good! Now put that same magnifying glass on you.

When I suffer from lock-ups like yours it is due to the narrative getting out of whack with my motivation. Somewhere inside me, often unacknowledged or hidden from me, is the reason I am writing that particular piece. Something had to get out. For me it's often something primal. But it can be an intellectual motivation or anything in between. Whatever the case, that's the compass to true north. That's the intuitive roadmap of where my story must go. If my initial enthusiasm carried my narrative away from my purpose, then bringing it to light, examining it, acknowledging it, arms me with an instinct for where I went askew and what to do about it, and how to carry on. And so the words flow again. Akin to that are two other misalignments. Sometimes I choose a purpose and start banging away, only to find it is different from my gut-level impetus, and that can cause lock-ups. Or, on occasion, recognition of my motivation tells me I don't like the reason I'm writing the piece (therapy, personal glory) and I must either find a way to change my core purpose or dump the work.

Hope this helps.

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dios4vida
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Re: Stuck at the 1/3rd way mark

Post by dios4vida » October 1st, 2010, 4:57 pm

Dearth of Reason wrote:When I suffer from lock-ups like yours it is due to the narrative getting out of whack with my motivation. Somewhere inside me, often unacknowledged or hidden from me, is the reason I am writing that particular piece. Something had to get out. For me it's often something primal. But it can be an intellectual motivation or anything in between. Whatever the case, that's the compass to true north. That's the intuitive roadmap of where my story must go. If my initial enthusiasm carried my narrative away from my purpose, then bringing it to light, examining it, acknowledging it, arms me with an instinct for where I went askew and what to do about it, and how to carry on. And so the words flow again. Akin to that are two other misalignments. Sometimes I choose a purpose and start banging away, only to find it is different from my gut-level impetus, and that can cause lock-ups. Or, on occasion, recognition of my motivation tells me I don't like the reason I'm writing the piece (therapy, personal glory) and I must either find a way to change my core purpose or dump the work.
This is brilliant. I had to dump a piece not to long ago because my initial motivation wasn't where my heart was. I was trying to write something "out of the box" and "unique" and tailoring it to be the opposite of my previous works - since they hadn't garnered any interest from agents, I figured I was writing the "wrong thing" and that by changing this plotline up I could write something saleable. It was miserable, I hated writing it, I got stuck at the 17,000 word mark, and I didn't care about breaking through. I trunked it and moved to something else, writing it the way it's asking to be written, and although work is progressing slowly it's still progressing. And I'm enjoying the work again.

I think all of this advice is wonderful. There is a topic titled "Getting Motivated" just down this board that also has wonderful advice. Best of luck to you!
Brenda :)

Inspiration isn't about the muse. Inspiration is working until something clicks. ~Brandon Sanderson

k10wnsta
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Re: Stuck at the 1/3rd way mark

Post by k10wnsta » October 1st, 2010, 6:47 pm

Just out of curiosity. When the inspiration to start this project struck, did you have any idea where it was going to end up?
How vain it is to sit down and write when you have not stood up to live.
--Henry David Thoreau

Jaya
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Re: Stuck at the 1/3rd way mark

Post by Jaya » October 1st, 2010, 10:02 pm

Wow, the feedback thus far is wonderful. Really.
I like the idea of writing scenes (to the person who suggested that!). That might work. I have scenes and snatches, but..

I also like the idea of wondering why I started it. I felt so strongly about it. The characters each have a piece of me in them. They reveal fear, sarcasm, bitterness, resentment of some points in my life that I felt this urge to just write.
That could be good (it is vivid, it is real), but also bad (it is "therapy", in other words, it's not the story I really want to pursue).

So, I really like that point about "just dump the piece". I kind of feel that way. I'm not enthused to write it. I could work at piecing it together. Or I could focus on short story pieces and find my personal enjoyment of writing again (like when I was a kid).

Someone suggested reading material that is like what I am writing. That is interesting! WHy? Because I do NOT want to. Ha.. Yes, its kind of like someone writing a horror piece, but absolutely not in the mood to read horror or not in the mood to think or be in that mode. I'm in a silly mood. Not "other" stuff (going back to the "therapy" point maybe, focusing on the bad stuff, and eventually it gets on your nerves, time to let it go).

Really good thoughts though. Thanks so much. I'm glad I posted after all. Helps to bounce this off, more than I ever realized!

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Dana-Lynn
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Re: Stuck at the 1/3rd way mark

Post by Dana-Lynn » October 2nd, 2010, 3:50 am

Sounds like you're on the right track.

Maybe it was going so good in the beginning because something inside of you just NEEDED to get out. Then once you got it all out, that something inside decided it was time to move on.

Give yourself a break and write what you love, read what you love, and work on what you enjoy working on. Maybe this will help you discover your passion for writing again.

Good luck!
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*It's the writer's job to keep upping the ante on the complications, starting a bigger problem the minute the last one's resolved, keeping the reader turning those pages.*

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arbraun
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Re: Stuck at the 1/3rd way mark

Post by arbraun » October 3rd, 2010, 12:27 am

I would read more. It always inspires the hell out of me. I read like a fiend and I've always got something to write.

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