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My story eludes me, any suggestions?

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Old 01-30-2007, 02:32 PM
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Default My story eludes me, any suggestions?


Hi,

I'm pressing on with my novel, as I've been recording in my blog, but I'm struggling and wonder if anyone has any advice to help me out of the morass I'm wading through at the moment. The problem is I have all the ideas, all the abstract background details of the theme of my novel, all the intricate relationships that exist between my various characters mapped out, I see clearly the shape and structure of the novel but I struggle to turn this into actual story. I have pushed on to chapter eleven but each new chapter starts for me with the question, where now? Maybe that's how the thing will be written but it is driving me nuts not being able to develop a consistent storyline. My writer's group assures me I do have a story and not just a randomly strung together seris of incidents, and I can see connecting threads but these threads just develop into more ideas. How to translate ideas into prose? Any/all serious suggestions greatfully recieved.

Rhiannon

Dazed and confused but still standing.

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Old 01-30-2007, 02:46 PM
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Everyone has their own way of writting. I can't have everything mapped out myself because it gives me a sense of limit but i suggest you sit down and fugure out the start. Once that is done pick who will lead the first scene and where it will lead. If you have a sense of the story the characters and plot will take it from there. I hope that helps.
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Old 01-31-2007, 06:55 AM
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Hello Rhiannon,

Many people don't like to plot and just see where the actions of the characters take them. Me I'm a plotter. I like to know where my characters are going and what is going to happen to them along the way.

Often they wander off course and do something surprising, which can be a good thing (on occasion!). So what you are doing, by asking...well where now? Is not a wrong way to do things.

I also use themes to help me plot things out too. Now I know we write completely different genres, but this method would work for any genre. For example in the current novel project I wanted to explore 'our conscience', so I started with a serial rapist and murder, who was the typical quiet 'nice' guy down the street. I brainstormed a few things from this idea of the 'demon' within and got several good ideas (well i think they are -lol), which i could string together to get a plot together.

for example: I literally had a 'demon within', by having a a creature that possessed a persons body, I also came up with 'past-lives', another lifetimes worth of experiences locked up in the mind and soul and I also had the ususal human emotions, negative ones such as jealousy, guilt, but also positive ones like loyalty and love. - it was these things that helped me to understand my characters and how they would behave and react that pulled it all together.

What you are doing is very similar, your just doing it as you write, rather than like me, before i put pen to paper.

Keep going and believe in yourself.
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Old 01-31-2007, 07:43 AM
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I read a nice analogy about writing without plotting (I think it was Val McDermid that said it). It’s like driving in the dark with no headlamps. You can only see immediately in front of you and you don’t know where you’re going, but keep on going and trust that you’ll get there.

I do plot myself, but that’s because if I didn’t I’d get completely lost! I think it’s a personal choice. Maybe what you’re doing when you say ‘where now?’ is plotting each chapter at a time, and that’s good enough if it gets you through it.

You’re at the first draft stage anyway and you’ll be able to edit it once that’s done, and find all sorts of things that you didn’t think about initially are now quite important. It’s amazing what the subconscious can do, it’ll sort your themes out for you.
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Old 02-01-2007, 10:58 AM
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Something I did to finish my last book. Everything went well until I arrived around the ninth chapter. I had so many ideas they were scrambling together. So I put a stop to my writing, took a half day to think and ask myself questions.

How I wanted my book to end? A marriage.
How to get there? Planning the wedding
Planning alone or with someone? Ask for help
Who to invite? Parties from both sides
What is to happen between now and then? Okay I want that and that to happen. I want to incorporate that idea and I want them there.

Slowly but surely the end came within reach 25 days after it started. Over 57.000 words of it. (I had taken four day off during my writing.)
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Old 02-01-2007, 04:12 PM
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Originally Posted by josiehenley View Post
I read a nice analogy about writing without plotting (I think it was Val McDermid that said it). It’s like driving in the dark with no headlamps. You can only see immediately in front of you and you don’t know where you’re going, but keep on going and trust that you’ll get there.
Great Val McDermid quote (one of my favorite suspense writers) & very apt. Also, I second what StarPanda said. It sounds like you sorely need an outline. Just write out a short paragraph (in chronological order) that's basically a brief summary of each chapter you have so far. When you do that, you can step back and see where you've gone with your story and maybe get a bird's eye view of where it's headed, too. Then, rather than write more chapters right off the bat, write a few more outline paragraphs that summarize future scenes. Each paragraph should then be the basis for each chapter you write from then on. It need not be pretty, just functional. Once you've written enough summary paragraphs to take to your last chapter, leave that one open, as an ending needs to be really thought-out.

Once you write your novel down in outline form, sometimes you might find that you have a chapter or two that simply took you in the wrong direction. It's very hard to write like you're shooting from the hip. Start with an outline and think of it as a 'road map' to get where you want to go. You can always change it as you go if a better idea pops up or a new character jumps to the fore and takes the story in a more interesting direction. Bottom line, if you find your own story faltering, then you need to have something 'new' happen. I can't remember who said it quote-wise (and I'm too out-of-it to google it right now), but a well-known writer once said (paraphrased) "If you find yourself stuck in a story, have a man walk into the room with a gun."

- Jillian
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Old 02-02-2007, 06:03 AM
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"If you find yourself stuck in a story, have a man walk into the room with a gun."
Raymond Chandler...and a great quote choice...nothing picks up a story than a little unexpected catastrophy!
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Old 02-02-2007, 06:16 AM
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Originally Posted by starpanda View Post
Raymond Chandler...and a great quote choice...nothing picks up a story than a little unexpected catastrophy!
This is my favourite, which mirrors Jillian's - I hope it is helpful

The greatest rules of dramatic writing are conflict, conflict and conflict.
James Frey
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Old 02-03-2007, 02:22 PM
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Originally Posted by starpanda View Post
This is my favourite, which mirrors Jillian's - I hope it is helpful

The greatest rules of dramatic writing are conflict, conflict and conflict.
James Frey
That's a great one - I always remembered it as the "rule of 3 C's"
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