5 Ways to–Aw, I Got Nothin’

Yeah, I know, blog posts on marketing tell you to give your post a “how-to” or “x Number of Ways to do something” title. I don't have any of that kind of advice today. Here's what I've got.

I've got a twisty-turny manuscript.

No, I don't mean the plot has sinuous and blink-and-you'll-miss-it events. I mean I just can't get to grips with the dang thing.

Every time I embark on a new novel, I go through this. I read advice on structuring it (my favorite is Jim Butcher's method). I try, I honestly try, to outline an entire novel before I write it. But somehow that takes the fun out of it for me.

I've thought of just plain writing it straight on, no stopping, plow ahead and see what happens, like my good buddy Shaun Allan does. From what he's told me, his character pretty much takes over and tells the story the way he wants to. I've never had that happen. My characters just blink up at me, kind of like my cats, saying, “Well? What next?” or maybe “Where's my food?”

My method always seems to be to write until I get stuck, mull it over, see where I went wrong, then start over. With Second Death, I did 12 partial drafts with the plot going in one direction. I realized that direction wasn't working, started over (not completely over, I did copy large sections from the old version) and did another 7 or 10 drafts, I forget. With me, it seems like I have to edit as I go.

As an experiment, I once wrote a serial in my blog, The Investigations of the Hephaestus. I did no plotting beforehand, sort of like doing a round robin story with myself. It came out okay, and I love the characters, but I'm not sure if I could do that with an entire novel.

And now I've done it again. My current novel, Noora and the Vessel of the Clouds, is about 10K along and I've rethought it twice in as many days. I regrouped, though, and went back to the old ways–pen on paper. Really helps me think when I'm having difficulties. I complained to my gaming-writing buddy Scott Carter that I wasn't happy with the tone: it felt more like a young adult novel. He said with a shrug, “There's a good market for young adult novels.”

You know, he's right. Let's just see where this book goes. Maybe it will be a YA novel. I do have a series theme for it

So. I'll keep you posted. What about you? What demons do you wrestle with when you're writing?