Writer's Block

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    Apr 29, 2009 9:21 PM GMT
    Realjock guys I need your advice and help. I'm a writer and right now I am hard at work writing my Eternal First Novel. I've been working on it for years and it has constantly morphed on me. I would write a few chapters, stop, destroy those chapters and start over again after a long absence.

    Now I am again working on it and it is a comedy of sorts about the main character spending a weekend in the country with his ex boyfriend and his current girlfriend and a handful of others. Strange things happen involving dogs, pies, lawn burning, and teddy bears.

    So far so good.

    Now I am on Chapter 12 and the characters wake up to find out they have changed. Gained powers and/or transformed into something else. I however have no idea what they have changed into. These transformations involve three male characters and three female characters.

    Instant writer's block.

    Any ideas on how to deal with the writer's block and/or what these characters turn into?
  • GQjock

    Posts: 11649

    Apr 29, 2009 9:27 PM GMT
    Sounds like you might not have a handle on your point of view

    Who's eyes are you seeing through to tell this story?
    Who's doing the narration and what is the conflict the main character is going through?
    What is the means of the transformation? and how is this transformation going to affect the main character?
  • Webster666

    Posts: 9217

    Apr 29, 2009 9:32 PM GMT
    My thinking is that you are trying to meld two different genres: the battle of the sexes, and science fiction. And, you haven't given any reason for them suddenly waking up with some kind of powers. I think that it would be far better to leave out the science fiction, and concentrate on the interactions among the various characters.
    "Love, Valour, Compassion ?"
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    Apr 29, 2009 9:41 PM GMT
    I have never tried writing a novel but I had to write for a living. If I had writer's block it would be a very painful job given my deadlines. I had several tricks. One was to stop and read. I had to right analytical material so I figured some of the block was due to a lack of understanding. The other trick was to break it down into small sections that conveyed the points I knew I was trying to get across. That would often generate more questions in my head which would bring the publication to life.

    I have also written poetry. I spent two years on one poem. I put it down and picked it up several times. It is now finished and I see it as my best poem ever. I suggest you not destroy your old work but to reread it and change it. Toss out what you don't like and keep what you do. Don't be afraid to mix what you were set to throw away with a new story.

    As for your current story, the reason you have writer's block is because you're not sure what metaphor you want to create. BTW I expect you have read Kafka "The metomorphosis". What makes the story so brilliant is how involved and complex the metaphor he creates becomes.
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    Apr 29, 2009 9:46 PM GMT
    Oops, should have given more information.

    The story is told by the main character. Writing the novel in the first person point of view just made it easier for me. The main character may have triggered the transformations but that is not one hundred percent certain. Weird things always happen when he is around.

    The story is a mixture of fantasy and comedy.

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    Apr 29, 2009 11:13 PM GMT
    Read the book "To the Vanishing Point" by Allan Dean Foster. You will be inspired.
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    Apr 29, 2009 11:19 PM GMT
    McGay saidRead the book "To the Vanishing Point" by Allan Dean Foster. You will be inspired.


    I will have to give that a try.
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    Apr 29, 2009 11:31 PM GMT
    You don't know your characters well enough yet and/or you don't know your storyline well enough yet.

    Go out and daydream about it and I do mean daydream. It doesn't even matter if what you are daydreaming about makes any sense to the story. Let your mind wander and open up and it will come. Get some ideas to use and not use. Do not sit there and force it. Characters tend to have at least some small similarity to the writer so find that aspect. At least 90% of writing happens BEFORE you write the first word.

    Accomplish that and you should never have writers block again.
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    Apr 30, 2009 12:48 AM GMT


    Hey gryphon100 , another writer here. This next will likely not make sense to a lot of other people...

    What do the characters tell you when you go inside their heads?


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    Apr 30, 2009 12:58 AM GMT
    hmmm... ultimately the answer is in your head... this is all part of the journey of writing, you discover the characters and the story as you go along.

    however, in terms of suggesting a few ideas, they wake up to find that:

    - they have traded minds with one another (ex: the ex bf and new gf trade minds... perhaps the others stay the same?? - could be a test of true love for the main character, etc)

    - they are the same, but have awoken several years in the future... or past

    - the males have become female, and the females have become male

    - the main character is gone and they have all absorbed different aspects of his personality and who he was, and their interaction among each other forms his character as a continuous presence in the story... perhaps they antagonize and frustrate one another... find a harmony eventually, which brings back the main character, etc

    - that one of them is gone, and it is as if he was never there to begin with, thus the characters change in accordance with the idea of how would they act and who would they be had they never met said character

    hmmm... if i come up with anything else, ill post
    not sure these ideas are of any value, as ultimately you only know these characters and where they have to go

    cheers, and goodluck
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    Apr 30, 2009 1:04 AM GMT
    meninlove said

    Hey gryphon100 , another writer here. This next will likely not make sense to a lot of other people...

    What do the characters tell you when you go inside their heads?




    You know I haven't given that much thought. The main character is an overgrown child and sports plates and a spiked tail. His ex-boyfriend still finds him impossible. The ex-boyfriend's girlfriend likes the main character. One character is a Southern cracker and wonders what this fruitcake is doing here. One male character and one female character keep their own counsel. One female character is a flirt.
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    Apr 30, 2009 1:05 AM GMT
    MeOhMy, those are some good ideas.
  • barriehomeboy

    Posts: 2475

    Apr 30, 2009 1:07 AM GMT
    I know authors talk about letting their characters evolve and write the story for them, but it really doesn't work that way. A novel starts with an end point. In developing the story, you are demonstrating how the characters get from Chapter One to The End. A film director wouldn't turn on the cameras and let the actors decide where the plot was going. The whole film is story-boarded before the filming begins. Writing works the same way. If the 'waking up with superpowers' thing isn't going to get your characters from Chapter One to The End, save it for another book.
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    Apr 30, 2009 1:15 AM GMT
    just sketch it all out, start with broken pieces and puzzle 'em up together, seems like your mind work randomly like a surrealist or dadaist mind, so this process would probably fit you, it would stop you from worrying too much about what happens next and just write about what comes into your mind this way you don't get "blocked". but still, keep a framework in mind.
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    Apr 30, 2009 1:20 AM GMT
    gryphon100 saidYou know I haven't given that much thought. The main character is an overgrown child and sports plates and a spiked tail. His ex-boyfriend still finds him impossible. The ex-boyfriend's girlfriend likes the main character. One character is a Southern cracker and wonders what this fruitcake is doing here. One male character and one female character keep their own counsel. One female character is a flirt.
    This sounds like the premise of Comedy Central's Drawn Together.

    It sounds like you don't know why they changed. Why did they change? What power changed them: God, the Devil, the Cigarette-Smoking Man, Perez Hilton?

    Create contrasts with the change agent and the characters. Were they changed by the agent because the agent is a new, unexplored character, with bizarre or cruel motivations? How is the change agent related to the narrator? Can they be one and the same?

    Is this a moral story, or is it an allegory about common events or circumstances?
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    Apr 30, 2009 2:17 AM GMT
    Webster666 saidMy thinking is that you are trying to meld two different genres: the battle of the sexes, and science fiction. And, you haven't given any reason for them suddenly waking up with some kind of powers. I think that it would be far better to leave out the science fiction, and concentrate on the interactions among the various characters.
    "Love, Valour, Compassion ?"


    Webster is right, Gryphon. I have written 8 books that have been published. No, I'm no Stephen King, but nonetheless, I know the process. You've got two different books here.

    And are you kidding me that in the 12th chapter your characters wake up with strange powers? That's not something that happens that far into the book. That happens in the 1st chapter. When something like that happens in a novel, it happens right up front. Then the spend the rest of the book figuring out what happened to them, why, and what they are meant to do with these powers. You're stuck because you started the book with one thing and now you've morphed it to another. And what can you do with that? Nothing. Even if you finished this thing with the gaining of super powers in Chapter 12 it would never sell. You need to axe that chapter, no matter how badly you like it and go back to the zaniness of the early book and figure out from there where you're taking the characters and what's the point.

    Or start with chapter 12 and have them save the world from certain destruction. Either way, you have two books wrapped in one and that will never work.

    Best advice I ever got when I first began writing was that I needed to outline the whole thing from beginning to end and know where you're taking your characters. And then stick with the outline through your first draft. If it doesn't work quite like you want it to in the first draft, well change it in the second draft. But part of the reason why you aren't finishing your novels is because you don't know where you're taking your characters when you first start writing.

    Begin with the end in mind--maybe even write the climactic ending to start off with--and you'll have a better shot of finishing this thing.
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    Apr 30, 2009 2:53 AM GMT
    Guys, keep the advice and comments coming I really appreciate it. Growingbig, I've taken the advice and just let my mind wander. Have come up with some ideas but nothing I'm 100 percent behind.

    ScottishWarrior I may have to take your advice though my heart cries against it.

    I'm finding out the paradox of comedy. How easy it is to write it and yet how hard it is at the same time. Just trying to tell a funny story. Moral and Allegory can just stay away.

    I also didn't mention it but will now. The characters change because of a ceremony they conducted the previous evening. Evil Dead, P.G. Wodehouse, and comic books have warped me beyond hope.



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    Apr 30, 2009 2:58 AM GMT
    I think Hemingway always said, Don't stop writing until you know exactly what happens next. (Consider that paraphrased.)

    The point being when you come back to the work, you'll start right away and have no issues with writer's block. Most people stop when at an impasse or flummoxed by some corner they're written into - from Hemingway's advice you keep going each time you start typing. Seems to help me.
  • coolarmydude

    Posts: 9190

    Apr 30, 2009 3:06 AM GMT
    Another suggestion is to summarize how you want the story to end and form a bridge from your last written piece to that end of the story.

    Make sure your characters are developed.

    Remember the components of a good story: Conflict, Atmosphere, plot/thesis, setting, rising action, climax and falling action.
  • calibro

    Posts: 8888

    Apr 30, 2009 3:26 AM GMT
    in my writing experience, especially with novels, you fall into writer's block when you're doing something wrong. stop forcing the story. if you're trying to write something good and fit in stuff, you'll mess up and get the block. before i write any piece, i always ask myself how does the story want to be told? stories are like children: we have expectations and visions for them, but they have a will of their own and grow up to be what they want to regardless of our intentions. the best you can do is support and nurture your story to be the individual it wants to be, and when it goes off into the real world and outlives you, hope others love it as much as you did. so ask yourself, what direction does the work want to be going in, not where you are trying to make it go.