When there's nothing going on...

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Netti
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When there's nothing going on...

Post by Netti » February 12th, 2011, 12:40 pm

I'm four pages into my novel and stuck already. Right now, my character is travelling on her own and just lost her car. So what do I write about? What do you do in your stories when there's nothing going on? How do you get from point A to point B? I have an outline but it's pretty vague and I want to get farther before ending the chapter. Any ideas?
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polymath
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Re: When there's nothing going on...

Post by polymath » February 12th, 2011, 12:50 pm

A jump transition skips static parts. Posing a character in a scene ending on the way somewhere, for instance. Then posing the character arriving there.
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Re: When there's nothing going on...

Post by Margo » February 12th, 2011, 12:50 pm

It sounds like the outline is a little too vague, and/or possibly you need to spend a little more time developing to your satisfaction what the story is about and what you are trying to say with it.
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Dankrubis
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Re: When there's nothing going on...

Post by Dankrubis » February 12th, 2011, 1:00 pm

Since it's the start of the novel, I suggest character development. Get your MC to point B by putting him/her in an interesting situation that shows off who this person is.

Have it move the plot along and you get bonus points :)

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Re: When there's nothing going on...

Post by Margo » February 12th, 2011, 3:01 pm

Dankrubis wrote:Since it's the start of the novel, I suggest character development.
You can't go wrong with this advice, IMO. When people are stuck my two most common suggestions are work on your outline a little more and try some more character development.
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Re: When there's nothing going on...

Post by bcomet » February 12th, 2011, 8:45 pm

Ha! I just read your:
Netti wrote:I'm four pages into my novel and stuck already. Right now, my character is travelling on her own and just lost her car.
as cat.

So it sent me in another direction.

Sometimes, if it's only four pages in, maybe you either want to start at a different point or, if this is the place you need to be, maybe get in the character's body. And also ask: Well, what happens next? What's the important next action that needs to take place? Why, for example did she lose her car and how does this (sorry) drive the plot forward?

Hope that is helpful.
Let us know how you get unstuck. We all get stuck in places.

(I am also either stuck (or taking a break––not sure yet which––) at around 50,000 words in a novel. That's a lot scarier place to get stuck than four pages in. But it helps if I get in the character's body and start living the story again through her eyes and stop telling myself: Well, I know what happens next so why do I want to write it? which is easier to do when you, the writer, are thinking outside of the character's body.)

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Re: When there's nothing going on...

Post by JohnDurvin » February 13th, 2011, 8:25 pm

Now this is assuming you know what's going to happen soon, you just have to get to that point. What I find helpful when I get stuck there is to switch between...ah...I don't know the term for it, but to switch between detailed descriptive prose and broader exposition. For example, if a character is at dinner with a friend, they sit down, order an appetizer. I've described the surroundings and both characters' expectations for the meal, interspersed with bits of dialogue, and now the scene is dragging--three pages in and they've gotten to the drink order. Well, if I got stuck there, I'd wrap up the dialogue with some bit of plot or characterization, and then back off a bit and say, "in a few minutes the food arrived, and they ruminated on what had been said, punctuating their thoughts with pleasantries and bon mots between bites. Alice ordered a dessert, Bob didn't; afterwards he still insisted they split the bill evenly. On the car ride home they talked more about (whatever they'd been talking about), and after a little TV they went to bed."
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cheekychook
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Re: When there's nothing going on...

Post by cheekychook » February 13th, 2011, 8:50 pm

This may totally go against a lot of people's writing style, but no one says you have to write your first chapter first. If you "see" another part of the story clearer than you're seeing the opening, or if there's a part of the future plot that is more worked out in your head, write that. The bottom line is that whether you write in a linear fashion or hop around and cobble it together later the first pages of the first chapter are going to change a thousand times before your done. Or more than that, if you're me. If you're stuck in one spot, move to another. If you're still stuck, move again. Figure out where it all goes later. Just my two cents. *waits for all the linear planners to start throwing things* (*secretly hopes they'll throw something useful, like maybe a snack*)
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Robin
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Re: When there's nothing going on...

Post by Robin » February 14th, 2011, 11:25 am

Write your ending and then work your way backwards. If you know where you want to end, getting there is easier.
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Re: When there's nothing going on...

Post by Margo » February 14th, 2011, 11:28 am

cheekychook wrote:*waits for all the linear planners to start throwing things*


As the mostest extremest planner I know, even I don't start out planning linearly, so I doubt you shall be assaulted with projectiles, edible or otherwise.

cheekychook wrote:(*secretly hopes they'll throw something useful, like maybe a snack*)
No, you don't. No one hopes to be struck with any foodstuff I've prepared. Though they would make good weapons... It's the hard, sharp edges, I think. :)
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Re: When there's nothing going on...

Post by dios4vida » February 14th, 2011, 11:38 am

cheekychook wrote:This may totally go against a lot of people's writing style, but no one says you have to write your first chapter first. If you "see" another part of the story clearer than you're seeing the opening, or if there's a part of the future plot that is more worked out in your head, write that. The bottom line is that whether you write in a linear fashion or hop around and cobble it together later the first pages of the first chapter are going to change a thousand times before your done. Or more than that, if you're me. If you're stuck in one spot, move to another. If you're still stuck, move again. Figure out where it all goes later. Just my two cents. *waits for all the linear planners to start throwing things* (*secretly hopes they'll throw something useful, like maybe a snack*)
This is how I write, too. I put down anything that I see or feel at that moment, whether it should be on page 2 or 200. A few hard returns or --- between sections keeps them distinguished from each other. If I tried to write from page 1 to 100 straight through, I wouldn't get past page 4, either. *tosses a cupcake to cheeky for support*

I also second the other advice given here: should you be starting here, or maybe start right when she loses the car? Or later? Or earlier? (Figuring out where to start your novel is a pain in the @$$ - I've never started in the right place in any of my first drafts.) Also, character development and building suspense are great ways to fill things in until you get where you need to go.

Good luck!
Brenda :)

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

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Re: When there's nothing going on...

Post by Margo » February 14th, 2011, 1:48 pm

I think it might help to have a bit of a structural guideline to hang events on, even if it's just to play around with your outline. Check out the tent illustrations on this post from the blog for Larry Brooks. Might be helpful.

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Re: When there's nothing going on...

Post by J. T. SHEA » February 14th, 2011, 11:57 pm

Add a dead blonde. I've yet to read a book that could not be improved by adding a dead blonde. Think how much better LOTR would have been if Tolkien replaced Tom Bombadil with a dead blonde.

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Re: When there's nothing going on...

Post by bcomet » February 15th, 2011, 3:25 pm

J. T. SHEA wrote:Add a dead blonde. I've yet to read a book that could not be improved by adding a dead blonde. Think how much better LOTR would have been if Tolkien replaced Tom Bombadil with a dead blonde.
Or even Déagol.

And now, I am placing dead blonds into stories everywhere!

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