Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What Do You Struggle With?

I am struggling.

We all are. It is the one thing we cannot escape. Which is unfortunate, because just once I‘d like something to come easy.

No, this isn’t about the writing journey. It is about craft, the actual writing itself. Last year I made a decision to write a story that I thought I could whip out easily enough. (Are you laughing, you know what I am going to say)… Yes, what I thought I could “easily” write has turned out not so easy.

Let’s see, what happened? Plot was the first thing, than second it was the secondary characters. I managed to get a grasp on them, but I forgot the most important thing—my main character. I was so focused on having a “story” and then have secondary characters carry it along…my main character was forgotten. This is unusual, because normally my problem is reversed-I have a fully developed main character and my secondary characters need the work.

I have re-started this story at least five times. I get to page 65, and it stops working. This is where a trusted reader comes in. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I am too close to the story as I write, I can’t see the forest for the trees. My friend read it and promptly pointed out, “I don’t have grasp of your heroine.” Oops.

Now what to do….I have considered scrapping the damn story. Do you know what stops me? I really like the secondary characters; I want to know what happens to them. I also hate to admit defeat, I feel like it is gesture of weakness and if I have to be honest- it is my pride that has a problem with it.

So, I am giving myself one last chance. I am not restarting, but I am making notes. To solve my main character issue, I sat down and wrote a three page description of the heroine, her background and what motivates her, and dark secrets, her strengths and weaknesses. (Silly me, I thought my few sentence description of her when I started would have helped).

My goal now is to move forward with these changes and see if this writing exercise helps. If this exercise doesn’t work, I am going to put this story aside and work on another. I have spent way too long working on this story. I have struggled mightily and learned a lot about my strengths and weakness. Still, deep down, I wish it was easier. I know, nothing worthwhile comes easy, but there are days I wouldn’t be too snippy about it flowing a bit better.

What are you struggling with as you write? Is it plot? Characters? Length? Genre? How are you overcoming this?


Christine said...

I totally feel your pain! I had struggled with my characters, the heroine in particular, being too flat (tried to write about a gal who didn't have a crappy background LOL). So I fixed that and then I got bogged down in plot. Then I fixed that and a contest judge said my story was too plot driven and I needed more characterizsation. Then I worked on that issue and and and... now I am struggling with rediscovering my focus as I await the GH Finalist announcements (based on some negative feedback on my first 25 pages I doubt I finaled).

It isn't easy to write. It is hard. I can't even explain to non-writers about it anymore. I don't want to try.

BTW, if you love the secondary characters, I'd push past p65 and keep writing. They might help your heroine emerge.

Good luck!!

Sherry Werth said...

It will come together for you MV. You just keep pecking away at that keyboard!
My struggle is finding the time to work on writing. I've rejoined the gym so there goes an hour or so. But that was a necessity. Either that or find the nearest moo-moo store. Then there's always that mountain of laundry and that ever famous question, "What's for supper?" to greet you when you get home. Last night it was 10:30pm before I got a chance to sit down at the computer. I swear I could hear my hero/heroine say, "Not tonight honey..I've got a headache."
Getting off my potty of pity now!
: D

Karen Beeching said...

Letting go has been my biggest struggle. I've shelved 4 books that I will never look at again. They aren't worth trying to rewrite. But I'm glad I worked and reworked them ask much as I did, the process taking so much time it helped me understand why agents/editors will pass when it looks like too much work to fix. Sometimes writing a new story would be quicker. :)

Good luck! Maybe make one of those secondary characters your main character?

Louisa Cornell said...

I'm with Sherry. My biggest struggle is with time to sit down and write. I work 40 hours a week. I have nine rescued dogs in runs outside and 4 small dogs inside. Try cleaning up after, feeding, watering, bathing, taking to the vet that many animals. I love them and they keep me going, but my time is more often than not - not my own.

And of course when I do sit down and right that !#^@#%@% internal editor keeps sitting there saying "Are you SURE you want to leave it like that?" I swear, I would pay real money for someone to take that guy off my shoulder and for a long ride in the desert - one way!

Carla Swafford said...

My problem is length. I have a habit of having so much of the story in my head and not wanting to over describe, I end up leaving a lot out that I probably shouldn't. Then again, I probably should slow the story down in some places. But wouldn't it be boring? See my dilemma?

M.V.Freeman said...

I am pushing past that 65, I'm mad now, and my pride is telling me finish.

Still...ouch. LOL

And I agree, trying to explain to non-writers is very difficult.

Keep writing Christine! (and did you hear anything about the GH?)

M.V.Freeman said...

I totally understand about the Gym and Time. I don't know about you, but I wish I only needed 4 hours sleep. I managed to get a few pages done when I was riding down to Birmingham for a field trip today. I am beginning to find that even the small bits encourage me.....
You'll do it Sherry! ;)

M.V.Freeman said...

Letting go is so hard! This is my last try, I mean it! LOL.

And you know, if it doesn't work I do have that secondary character that is really compelling...(I like that suggestion about turning him into a main character!)

M.V.Freeman said...

Wow, that is love, taking in rescued animals! I have one neurotic cat and that stresses me out!

And I'm with you, if I could find a way to my internal editor to shut up, life would be better...LOL

M.V.Freeman said...

You know, for dilemmas I like that one...I like fast paced stories. :) And yours are always fun to read!

Christine said...

I didn't final. But that's okay. I am just pleased as punch for the people who did final. Of course, that doesn't mean I didn't have a personal pity party. I did. And now I am back in the saddle again. I called a friend who has read everything I've written (bless her) and she has finished the ms that I entered and she could see how much I had worked on it since the first draft--caught all the stuff I had fixed and loved the story sooooo.... back to work I go.

It's a tough business. I am glad you are pushing past the 65th page. Just keep plugging through to the end and you'll have something to fix. Or another story will evolve.

I'll be rooting for you!!

M.V.Freeman said...

((HUGS)) I have so much sorrow that you did not place, but a huge amount of admiration for your perseverence.

And thank you for your words of encouragement, and I pass them on to you too...Keep on! :)--even if we have to resort to chocolate!

Playground Monitor said...

Definitely feel your pain. I did finish my manuscript but had a trusted friend advise me to add a small scene to the end to wrap things up better. I'm struggling with that scene. I know I nailed things in the synopsis but I worry if I'm delivering in the manuscript -- especially since I got a request for it. Can we say stress???


M.V.Freeman said...

wooohooo!!! Marilyn, you go!
I Feel your stress..LOL Hang in there, I know you've got it!

Christine said...

Thanks for the hugs! And PM I know what you mean about stress with one scene. I once worked on a paragraph for 4 hours! And working to polish a requested MS is even more daunting. The stress of trying to perfect it is enormous because even more is riding on the outcome of that effort.

I just spent the morning researching publishers and making a list for submitting queries and more by the end of April for the 3rd MS. Just thinking about sending the "baby" out again is overwhelming me.

But if we don't submit or query our work, we will never get published.

And, as always, write write write.

I'm so glad you are pushing to the end of the book M.V. That's very important. I did the Book in a Week class and it forced me to keep writing forward instead of looking back and fixing/editing. It was an amazing experience and so worthwhile. It's in the revisions that the real story will emerge.