What to do, what to do?

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CharleeVale
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What to do, what to do?

Post by CharleeVale » March 8th, 2011, 1:42 pm

What d you do when you have a story that won't leave you alone, but you have no idea where it's going. I've probably written about 10,000 words now, and I have no idea where this story is headed. If I don't get some kind of direction soon it's going to get pretty boring...

What would you guys do? Write it until the stakes of the story reveal themselves? Or throw twists in at random in hopes something good will come out?

I don't want to impose something that's not inherently part of the story cause that will make it forced and contrived.

Any ideas?

CV

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polymath
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Re: What to do, what to do?

Post by polymath » March 8th, 2011, 2:08 pm

Sounds to me like you're prospecting for the meaning of the novel by writing out the inspiration. Finding a sense of direction might mean asking questions. What's it about? meaning what does it mean, is a counterintuitive though poignant question. Somewhere in the 10,000 words I'm sure is an answer or two.
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Re: What to do, what to do?

Post by Preacher » March 8th, 2011, 3:57 pm

Poly is right, and it would be wise to take his advice. Go back through what you have and start asking questions. Take your MC and ask what his motivation is. What does he or she want to do? Who is standing in the way and what happens if the MC fails hios objective. Even with smaller scenes, ask questions about what is going on and maybe you will get a sense of direction.

Sometimes, and i am curious where Poly stands on this, i put the thing in a drawer and go ahead and start writing something else, anything else. Le the other sit while you fool around with a new project. After a while, go back to the first thing and you might be able to see it with fresh eyes and get a perspective on the story after being away from it, almost like you have enver read it before. Sometimes the harder you try to get a handle the harder it becomes to master your own story.

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Re: What to do, what to do?

Post by Guardian » March 8th, 2011, 4:07 pm

Write the very last chapter. Then you'll know what is missing. Even if the last chapter will be different when you finish your WIP, it can help you to give basic goals and motives.

I always write the first and the very last chapters. With this I know what I want to reach by filling the missing pieces between point A and B. In most cases the ending will be better and in many cases different, but the first draft of the last chapter always helps me to give me motives, goals for the whole story. The additional details of your story will born as you progress from point A to B (As with this method you already have a point B; the necessary thing what is missing from your WIP right now.).

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Re: What to do, what to do?

Post by Claudie » March 8th, 2011, 4:30 pm

I agree with polymath on the asking of questions. Here's a few that might help:

- What does your MC believe in?
- What is his greatest fear?
- What would he fight for?
- What does he have at the moment? What more does he want?

Then I recommend taking these questions, and asking them about your antagonist, too. Get to know how these two forces butt head and you'll have a better sense of your direction, I think.
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Re: What to do, what to do?

Post by Margo » March 8th, 2011, 4:38 pm

CharleeVale wrote:I don't want to impose something that's not inherently part of the story cause that will make it forced and contrived.
Inherently part of the story?
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polymath
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Re: What to do, what to do?

Post by polymath » March 8th, 2011, 4:43 pm

Answering Preacher's query, my sense of it all, if you will, is the subconscious works nonstop. A hunch there's no direction presenting while writing, for one. Letting a stalled or languishing project ferment, for another. Inspirations themselves are correspondence from the subconscious to the conscious mind demanding understanding their meanings. The inspirations come from our everyday lives' influences impacting our need to know their meanings.

Asking questions brings the subconscious into communication with the conscious mind. Letting a project ferment allows the subconscious mind to abstractly process abstract concepts' meanings so they surface in the conscious mind.

Everything has meanings. Hidden meanings are the ones which elude the conscious mind. And that to me is a core consequence of writing, figuring out hidden meanings so we understand them and perhaps might share them in writing.
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Re: What to do, what to do?

Post by Mike R » March 8th, 2011, 8:21 pm

I often start writing with no idea what is going to happen. If I get 30 pages in and nothing interesting is going on, I do something bad to the characters, more often to the main character. It gives him/her/them something to deal with and a motivation and that's where the story really starts. Antagonists pop out of the woodwork, grand conspiracies are uncovered, danger to their way of life, even their very existence is discovered. Before you know it you're off and running, transcribing the characters actions, thoughts and words.

Is there anything more fun than finding a story floating around in the ether?

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Re: What to do, what to do?

Post by sierramcconnell » March 8th, 2011, 10:10 pm

NaNoWriMos often throw in Ninjas to make things interesting. XD

If I have an idea that comes out of nowhere and won't go away, I tell it I'm busy, shoo fly, don't bother me.

Then it comes back. I write down some notes, scribble some scenes in a book, and take plenty of ideas on note cards.

When I have an idea of who is who, I interrogate them with the 101 Questions You Should Be Able to Answer About Your Character.

I take the characters with me on shopping trips, to meals, and to work. I learn more about the story and their world and them by keeping them with me.

As you can see, I haven't written words on the story yet.

Once I have an idea of how I want to start halfway to the middle, that's when I take that step. Because I find I waste time and words and ideas running into walls if I don't know who I'm working with. I also find that writing a summary of events or timeline is so much more easy to work with than blindly feeling through it.

If you don't know where to go, ask them. [points at characters] They live there, they should be able to tell you.
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Re: What to do, what to do?

Post by Sommer Leigh » March 9th, 2011, 8:13 am

Me personally? I'd keep writing for a while and see what happens. I'd set a time limit for myself though, like, "I'll give you a week, idea, to figure yourself out!" After that I'll employ one of my secret tricks of the trade: I go for a drive. I don't know why ideas flow more fluidly for me when I am in my car, but htey do. I go for a very long drive, like I'll hit the interstate and drive to the next town. By the time I come back, my plot problems are usually solved.

That's just my method :-)
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Re: What to do, what to do?

Post by hannah_dreamergirl_3 » March 9th, 2011, 1:23 pm

I know what you mean....my worst habit ever is that I don't plan. I just have an idea and run with it and by the end theres a story. The only problem I found was later, trying to write the synopses!
I think the advice given here is fantastic.
But don't give up on something that is crying out to be written...not all of us are planners

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CharleeVale
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Re: What to do, what to do?

Post by CharleeVale » March 9th, 2011, 5:44 pm

I tried asking questions, but I figured out that the problem is that what will motivate the story has nothing to do with the protagonist, but with the outside forces that will influence her. Now a way to figure out what those are going to be...

Margo, let me clarify. I have a belief that a story is like a statue. It exists already in its complete form, it is the author's duty to chip away at the rock until we see the picture. That's why I don't like contrived plot twists. Kinda weird, I know....

Sierra, I am going to try the 101 question thing when I have time!

CV

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polymath
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Re: What to do, what to do?

Post by polymath » March 9th, 2011, 6:08 pm

My first question now to ask of a narrative's inspiration is, What's the conflict? Not solely, but relevant, is who and what's in contention. Bigger picture conflict related to theme, What are the forces in opposition related to stakes, motivations, and outcomes? Acceptance or rejection, life or death, riches or rags, redemption or damnation, liberty or entrapment, salvation or disaster, and so on, diametric forces in opposition. I believe everything else flows from conflict-theme.
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