Wednesday, November 26, 2014

On the passionate homestretch

Last week I posted about this has been my hardest NaNoWriMo ever.  Other Novembers have been hard because of travel, or sickness, but this time around, it's the story itself that was frustrating me. I just couldn't capture the vision (or even bits and pieces) of my vision for this story.

Turns out, blogging about my frustrations really helped. Even though I didn't get into the specifics. Just the act of sharing "I'm so frustrated!" (and all your kind and encouraging comments) helped me get past the frustration. Also much thanks to Julie Dao and this post of hers which reminded of the power of journaling through slumps.

The very night after blogging, ideas started to flow. I was able to isolate a few of the issues that were troubling me and some ideas about what could work, instead.

I had all these detailed character sketches for this story; so why weren't my characters working? Why did the main character feel so flat?  Part of the problem that I finally pinned down is that the character sketches were from 5 years ago (I wrote the draft of this story over 5 years ago. My plan this year was to completely rewrite it). Five years ago, I was really good at finding quirks for my characters, and I knew what their flaws were and their strengths. I even knew that all-important question: what do they want so badly that it drives everything they do? But I didn't know their passion. And, it turns out, that was a major missing factor.

So I've learned I have a really hard time writing characters that aren't passionate, and if I can't write the characters, I can't write the story.

The past week the writing has been going a lot better. I don't have the whole passion thing figured out, but I do know that it means digging deep into a character: into their past, into their fears. It also means seeing details that only they would see. Which is sort of the opposite of digging deep: this one sort of requires a light touch. But both require living in their shoes literally almost all day, every day for... well, let's say the month of November. (My family eagerly awaits the return of my attention. Most of this month I've been off in novel-land).

This post from Writer Unboxed: the Point of Writing, also really helped, especially this part:

  • Writing is about finding out who you are, what you have to say that is not the same as what everyone else has to say, and how to express it in the strongest possible terms.
  • The point of writing is to tell a story with your insight, the perspective that only you have.
  • The point of writing is to think deeply and to inform, entertain, communicate your insight with your readers.
  • The point of writing is to seek truth.  And it doesn’t matter how you do that, or whether you’re writing thrillers or detective stories or comedies, or picture books for children.  Truth is what will give your work resonance and power and make it worth reading...

I was close to giving up on this NaNoWriMo, but now I'm going for the win. Or rather, Lurching for the win.

Glad to be going into Thanksgiving tomrrow with a thankful mood regarding this story, which is my oldest and most beloved story, my "baby" but also definitely my "problem child."  Also thankful I have a clear holiday and weekend - no travel or plans (other than a yummy turkey dinner) - to compete with catching up my word count!

1 comment:

  1. Yay!!! So glad that you didn't give up! I have a mess that will add up to 50,000 words in a couple more days, but there are a lot of breaks in the middle where all I do is write about what I don't know about what I'm writing...but it's all good, because today I finally fell into the theme of what my story is trying to tell, what my MC is trying to learn and express...and now I just have to figure out how to SHOW it. Ha! So...all that to say, you can write yourself through whatever that slump is and into just what the vision is that you have for that novel. I believe it! <3



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