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Getting Through Rough Spots?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Mindfire, Aug 14, 2012.

  1. Mindfire

    Mindfire Istar

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    Anyone have advice on getting through the hard-to-write parts? I'm stuck with my WIP because I've gotten to a scene that I hadn't really planned out and consequently all I've got to go on is a vague idea of what's supposed to happen and how it's supposed to end.
     
  2. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    I run into one particular problem all the time when roleplaying. Quiet, non-eventful domestic scenes are the bane of my writing ability. No matter how relevant they are to developing character or setting up future plot things, or just giving my characters a chance to breathe between action sequences, they always, always give me grief. I'm struggling through one such scene in my vampire novel right now. Going strictly by what I wrote in the first draft is difficult due to changes made to previous scenes. I'm finding the introduction of new characters especially hard to write, for whatever reason.
     
  3. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    I would either force a very rough write-through of the scene or skip it entirely and come back to it once you've moved further along in the larger work and have a better handle on where that scene will go. Both of these have worked will for me in the past.
     
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  4. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

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    I do the latter. When I hit a spot like this I simply annotate it in bold red letters like:

    CRAZY CHASE SCENE HERE

    Then I move on. It will either work itself out as I fill in other context around the scene or I will tackle it on revision (writing it or cutting if it's no longer needed).
     
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  5. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Yeah, of the two that is the one I use most often as well.
     
  6. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    I've posted this elsewhere before, but here's what I do:

    1. Kill someone
    2. Blow something up
    3. Have a romantic interlude
    4. Make characters go somewhere new
    5. Introduce a new character
    6. Have characters get in an argument about something
    7. Add a kid/pet/cute thing

    These work for me sometimes. And may get the plot moving again.
     
  7. What they said. Just write something, anything: it can be stupid nonsense, it can be INSERT PLACEHOLDER HERE. If you feel stuck, give it five minutes of thought and then drop it and move on to something else. There's actual research showing that not thinking about a problem is sometimes the best way to figure out how to resolve it (your subconscious works on it in the background, more or less).
     
  8. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    Good advice, Phil. But what if it's one of those that's tripping you up (#5 in my case with the vampire novel)?
     
  9. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    If #5 is tripping you up, try doing #1, 2, 3, 4, 6, or 7 with said character. :)
     
  10. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    Hmm, let's see:

    1 - Nope, the guy who's about to walk in needs to be alive so he can show up later.
    2 - No explosives in 14th century Scotland. XD
    3 - Nope. New character is another minor character's husband, and has no such interest in the hero.
    4 - The hero just went somewhere new, which is where he's to meet this new character I'm trying to introduce. No point in moving him somewhere else so quickly; the new character is about to come to him.
    6 - There's nothing to argue about (yet); these people hardly know each other, and so far they're on friendly terms.
    7 - That would take away the focus from the new character, who is neither cute nor a pet.

    So yeah... looks like that's not gonna work. ^^;
     
  11. JadedSidhe

    JadedSidhe Minstrel

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    When I hit a scene like that, I'll just start making a list of things I want to happen and things that might happen. Once I've got all the possibilities covered, I'll start ruling them out until I'm happy with the list. Then I start filling in the details.
     
  12. Mindfire

    Mindfire Istar

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    1. There aren't any deaths until later on.
    2. I'm not sure if gunpowder has been invented yet. My MC has fire-based powers though, so this is kind of a given anyway.
    3. Um... it's an escape scene. With the MC's cousin. So no.
    4. Well they're about to go somewhere new... in the next chapter.
    5. Next chapter.
    6. This I think I can do.
    7. ...naaaaaaaaah.
     
  13. Agran Velion

    Agran Velion Minstrel

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    If it's an escape scene, can you up the tension/danger? Have people chasing after them with bloodhounds, horsemen, an angry mob with flashlights and pitchforks, the works.
     
  14. Lorna

    Lorna Inkling

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    I'd reflect on the function of the scene in relation to the rest of the novel.

    If you've got a plan for what comes later, think of whether you could create a scene that will lead to / link up with those events.

    Think about your characters, what would challenge them? Do any of them need to develop? Use the scene to test their skills.
     
  15. Mindfire

    Mindfire Istar

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    I think I can do that. The character is escaping his impending execution for being a witch/demon/spirit/thing (what this really means is "scaring the townsfolk with your strange and foreign magics and doing things we don't like").

    Only issue is that the masses are supposed to be fearful of him by this point, thinking he's a monster. But I guess that could make them more violent.
     
  16. ShortHair

    ShortHair Sage

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    This may sound strange, but some of my best writing happens when I'm in a "rough spot." For instance, two characters are talking, they start following one topic, and then I remember they were supposed to be doing something else. The conversation turns into a minefield. Drama gold.

    One possibility is to go worst case. Start with a meteor strike and work your way down to paper cut. What will create some activity and get you interested (that is, writing) again, without derailing what has to happen next?

    Another possibility is to create some conflict. If you have two characters sitting in a room and waiting for something to happen (which can't happen yet for whatever reason), start an argument. Maybe the tension gets to them. Maybe one decides that this lull is a good time to question a decision the other made recently. Maybe an incidental character (say, a waiter) makes an observation or reports some news, and they can chew over it.
     
  17. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    I could pull my hair out about the rough spot I've reached in one of my RPs. A main character, Vincent, will be kidnapped and tortured by Fae as punishment for accidentally turning one of their kind into a human via magic. Said Fae-turned-human, Lóegaire, is going to be part of the group who rescues Vincent. Lóegaire currently knows nothing about having been a Fae. I intend for Vincent's captor, a Fae named Cadell, to recognize Lóegaire and hint about his past life as a Fae; this will confuse and upset Lóegaire and lead into conflict between him and Vincent later on, since Vincent knew about Lóegaire's past but didn't tell him, thinking it in his best interests not to find out.

    The trouble is, everyone else in the group (Vincent's friends, brother, and possibly wife and/or daughter) will be gung-ho about rescuing Vincent and killing the Fae who have him tied up and badly wounded. If there's a battle going on, with arrows flying, swords flashing, were-beings clawing and biting, and Fae dying left and right, there will be no room for even a few words of conversation between Cadell and Lóegaire before Cadell is shot, stabbed or mauled to death. No one is going to be interested in talking at all, honestly. What on earth can I do to give Lóegaire that information from the mouth of a Fae (and it HAS to be from a Fae, because none of his non-Fae friends would tell him for his own safety)?
     
  18. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Ireth - how about after Vincent is rescued and the fight is over, and Cadell is laying on the ground dying. Lóegaire recognizes Cadell, or else Cadell recognizes him and calls him over, and he gives the news to Lóegaire as he's dying. If he's mortally wounded, I would think there would be an opportunity for him to talk because the rescue will be over.
     
  19. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    Well, due to having zero memory of being a Fae or interacting with any other Fae, Lóegaire would have no recognition of Cadell at all; it would have to be Cadell who calls Lóegaire over. I can't see Vincent's rescuers taking chances with leaving any of the enemy Fae alive, and that goes double for Cadell, since he's the ringleader of this group of Fae. Also, given that the weapons used against the Fae will either be animal claws/teeth, steel swords or iron-headed arrows, the chances of him being able to speak with a mortal wound are slim to none. Here are the possibilities:

    A. Death by were-being: Disembowelment, mauling, torn-out-throat
    B. Death by steel sword: Decapitation, stabbed in the heart or other vitals
    C. Death by iron arrow: Shot in the heart/other vitals, iron poisoning (if not killed instantly by the shot)

    As you can see, very few possibilities allow for any form of speech while dying. Iron poisoning is especially nasty, since the iron arrowheads will burn the Fae's flesh like hot coals while poisoning them as well, putting them in severe agony. (Lóegaire was healed from such a wound by Vincent, and barely managed to speak three words before passing out prior to the healing). If the head isn't removed, the Fae will die in a matter of minutes -- maybe ten, tops.

    Also, considering that Vincent will be badly wounded himself, his rescuers will be more concerned with getting him out of the Fae's woods and straight to a healer as soon as he's clear of the battleground, and Lóegaire would want to make sure he's okay rather than sticking around the woods.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2012
  20. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

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    Working your way out of rough patches often leads to great writing because it forces you (and your characters) to be clever about getting them clear.
     
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