Monday, July 13, 2009


This is from Jeanie. She was having Blogger difficulties. :-)

As writers we approach the craft in different ways. Some of us are plotters with flow charts and character profiles and some of us are pantsers, surprised at how our own story unfolds. And that's great. I'm glad we don't all approach writing in the same way. How boring would that be?

But just as we go about the process of writing in different ways, most of us probably have different things that cause us to stumble.

For me, it's beginning a new chapter.

By the time I've finished a chapter I've reviewed and revised and tweaked and prodded the darn thing until I'm satisfied with it. That's not to say it's perfect, but I'm usually pretty pleased with the result. There's this rush, this feeling of excitement at having finished one more block of the story to my satisfaction and then . . .

Then I have to do it all over again! When I start a new chapter, I usually have a rough idea what I want to happen in the next few pages, but I agonize about how best to start. Do I pick up where I left off, jump forward in time to keep up the pace or switch to a different POV and character altogether? What is the most effective way to move the story forward? This is my own personal bugaboo, a crisis that happens over and over again at the start of every new chapter. Once I get, say, five hundred words down that I'm reasonably happy with, I'm good to go. But that blank page, that new start to the mini story that is every new chapter always makes me nervous and anxious.

And in the back of my mind is the gnawing fear that I might not be able to do it again.

So, having laid bare my own neurosis for all to see, what battles do you face in your own writing? What makes you pull your hair out and gnaw your bottom lip with worry? Endings, dialogue, exposition, sex scenes? How about adverbs? she asked innocently.

Come on, I can't be the only one. Fess up.


Cari Hislop said...

As a pantser I can't even nail down how I get bogged down (I just do and then I'm banging my head on the desk until I figure out where I've gone wrong or skipped a part out etc) but I know I hate adverbs! Other than lovely (which I verbally use all the time though rarely in my writing) I think most other ly words should have been purged from the English language eons ago. I can see the need for words like slowly or quickly, but when I catch myself writing them I know I'm being lazy and when I read a story with lots of adverbs I end up throwing the book across the room.

Karen Beeching said...

Oh so true. I get like that when starting a new book, even when I know what I'm going to write. I finally get my last couple settled down together, and now I have to get two more troubled individuals together. Sigh. Sometimes I feel like a counselor instead of a writer. But once they start coming off that page and talking to me, I'm enjoying myself again and wondering what they're going to do.

I'm part plotter, part panster, which means I plan crazy.

M.V.Freeman said...

I'm a hybrid...I plot than I wing it. I have to have a destination, but sometimes I get lost on they way. It can be fun, or not.

I love starting new stories...what I struggle with are revisions...*Sigh* For some reason that is the hardest for me...even though the final product is better.

As for adverbs...I am ambivalent about them.

Christine said...

I also have to go thru' the MS with a "ly" find and change search. I get bogged down in revisions--trying to get the perfect scene written--maddening. I admit, I am a lazy researcher. Hate getting bogged down looking up alternative words and figuring out new and imaginative ways to depict "he walked."

Gearing up for the conference. Can't wait!

Carla Swafford said...

I'm a pantser but really, really need to start plotting more before I start writing. So I find myself plotting in the middle just to get to the end. Then edits...whoa! They're a pain but when I'm finished, I love the book even more!