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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Catalyst - When the Novel Stalls....

While writing this post, much of the HTML was lost. Please for give the extremely bumpy nature while I work on fixing it.

Most of the time I think of myself as pretty special. Somehow better than most people, and by most people I surely mean the me of the past. I've got talent, I've got potential, and I've got all of it racing with a head start.

But really, when we get down to the meat and grit of things, I'm just like every other aspiring novelist. And there's thousands of them. I'm nothing special.

My novel stalls.

It gets stuck. It refuses to work with me. Characters change their minds. And the plot refuses to thicken.

And it happens often.

As a writer, I think two things are paramount to completed a good novel. These are more than technical skill and more than magical creativity. Before any work can be done, every writer must be inspired and for that work to ever be completed, he must be encouraged.

In writing circles, even on this blog, we talk a lot about inspiration. Where do our ideas come from? What stirs our mind to seek out and pen new worlds and new people, never before imagined? But I think we often forget what keeps the inspiration going when the novel inevitably stalls.

The encouragement. The catalyst.

I've whined a lot about my novel sitting at a stand still. (Wait...sitting at a stand still? haha) I run out of plot ideas. And before long, without actually


Jessica said...

Excellent post Nathan.

For me I usually stall for "novels" around page 75-80. Always, always!!!! (frankly it is ANNOYING!) It is usually at this place where I have to step back and rethink why am I writing this, where is it going, and what is the true purpose of the whole story.

Usually at this point my characters have thrown out several things from original outline. To them it is just a looooooooong list of suggestions they don't have to take of they don't want to. So I usually end up reworking it to fit the new ideas they have thrown in.

The other thing that keeps me going is, I share my stories with a really good friend/critique partner and usually in my "break" she asks me "When do I get more?" Which always makes me feel worth while and gets me back into a mood that is ready to take on the new challenges my characters have created for me.

During breaks is also when I give into the plot bunnies and let my mind run with other stories, writing little ideas out here and there and then abandon them to see which ones come back with something more substantial and workable or just were a real rabbit trail.

But when I am struggling, I just sit down and "talk" to my character's what are their real thoughts on what is really going on. What do they feel? It is always fun getting thrown for a loop. (okay not all the time but at least I know WHAT I am supposed to be writing).

Other writers, music, other stories are all fuel for me but I am not going to go into more detail, this comment is long.

Looking forward to a peek at your story!

Have a great day Nathan!


Varon said...

I jump to a different project, perhaps another draft or a new idea. I leave the stalled project so I don't make it crash and burn.

I also don't write an outline so instead of sticking to a plan, which when read in the novel needs work, I set a goal for the characters and let them get there however they want. So far, it's worked fantastically with motorcycle chases, explosions, raids on Nazi camps and a few ninjas thrown in for good measure.

Galadriel said...

I have that problem quite a bit. One reason, I guess, is because "real life" gets in the way so easily.

Nathan R. Petrie said...

Wow...half this post just deleted idea didn't happen to copy it did you? I HATE rewriting material. And this post was pretty good..... :(

Stephen POpe said...

I really think you are a great writer and if you need encouragement, you know who to chat up. I would love to read some of your material

Ian said...

Intriguing post. I'm dying to read the rest of it. :P

Now I see why everyone is so enthralled with your writing: you sure know how to leave a cliffhanger. :P


Anonymous said...

Hang on there, Nathan!! Everything will end up all right. (lol- if you need ANY plot helps or tips or whatever, just shoot me an email!!)

Yup, this happens to me, too. My characters suddenly refuse to help me. They insist on staying right where they are. My backspace button and I were in a fight to the death a few months ago, and I stopped writing a certain short story for nearly a year. But I had promised to get it to a friend by Christmas, so I buckled down, deleted the last few sentances, and made sure I knew where I wanted the plot to go. Then I just wrote it, and the characters let me move them! It was pretty sappy at first, but a few revisions cleared that all up, and my friends loved it. (Now they're demanding another. Yikes...)

I'm praying for you, Nathan! You can do it! Show your descriptions and characters just who's boss! : )


Anonymous said...

Whenever you're ready, btw, I'd like to read the rest of this post. Thanks!


Jake said...

Hmmm...LOL, I see...half a post! :O It ends at..."before long, without actually--"

Oops. Perhaps I don't have a keen an eye as ye...I cannot see through blanks. ;) JK

K.M. Weiland said...

Ultimately, I believe that writers can't be dependent on encouragement. Waiting around on an impetus that may or may not be offered by others is shifting too much power out of our own hands. If we want to write, we have to *write,* even when there's no encouragement to be found.

That said, building up a supportive network of family, friends, and fellow writers can make a tremendous difference in our mindsets and energy levels. Not everyone will be blessed with an understanding family, but, happily, the online writing community is brimming with fellow writers who are more than happy to share commiseration and encouragement.

Nathan R. Petrie said...

Unfortunately since my post got sliced in half you misunderstood the post :-)

By encouragement I just meant that one thing, whatever it is for you, that gets you going again. ;)

Millardthemk said...

God. Songs about God usually. But they have to be theologically on the target otherwise I get all bent out of shape and can't write anything.

"Stand tall now and proclaim what you have seen, speak in whispered roars..."