It’s great having friends who are into the same hobby, isn’t it? Especially when they’re awesome at it. I’m lucky enough to have an awesome critique group, the IndyScribes, and I’m delighted to get to be part of IndyScribe Stephanie Cain‘s cover reveal party for her newest novel, The Weather War!
So, a big part of my being-stuck problem on the RSWIP (Romantic Suspense Work In Progress) was not really having an antagonist, which meant my characters were just wandering around bickering for no reason without any escalation of stakes. They had lots of problems, of course, just not the kind of antagonist-driven conflict that makes things, you know… interesting.
I found that it helped to do some outlining – but it also clarified that my lack of antagonist clarity was a big problem. So I did it again!
I treated the antagonist as if she were the protagonist (don’t most antags think they’re the protag anyway?) and went through the same steps.
This was really helpful at showing me where my antagonist was doing things that made sense for her (Act I) and where she wasn’t (uh…. Acts II and III), and helped me think about whether my antagonist WAS my antagonist, or whether she was a minion (still not 100% sure, even though I’m calling her my antag now).
I’m not sure I have many answers, but I think at least now I know the right questions to ask next time my writing partner and I get together.
I’m also a little bit tempted to give my antag a POV – or to write it as a website bonus – like Jenny Crusie did with the Antagonist Monologues on her blog – but for now, I’m going to try to focus on just getting clues about the antag dropped in the MC’s POV pages.
Spent a week in the northernmost state, and BOY was it amazing. Expect more on that later, since school starts tomorrow. (!!!) But I definitely had a lot of Thoughts and gathered a lot of Creative Energy (and explored lots of great settings for a series of murder mysteries, I think, not that I have time for that). I’m not a master photographer by any stretch of the imagination, but even a sucker like me with a busted-up phone can take a breathtaking pic in such a gorgeous setting.
…or should that be “Unstuckening”?
Either way, I suppose I shouldn’t count my chickens just yet. But things are looking up with my whole tumbleweed-mind situation!
So, I decided to try Tess Hilmo’s advice and make myself a foldable outline/plot-diagram thingie, like so:
It was immediately satisfying to have just created the thing, if a bit scary (since it was still all full of blank boxes, and I only had pens). But I figured, if it didn’t work, no harm no foul, right? I would just toss it out.
So I got started, sort of doodling around while some friends played video games and shot the breeze, and eventually the problem occurred to me:
The boxes ask about Main Characters.
My WIP is more or less a romance. That means it’s got two main characters.
I’ve been stuck with a blank mind on BOTH of my works in progress for about the last three months.
And NOW I’m at the point where it’s almost intimidating to go back: what if everything I’ve done is terrible? Or, if it’s good, what if I’ve totally lost the ability to write like that?? Or what if it’s terrible AND I’ve lost the ability to do it?!?!?
Obviously this is brain-weasels running amok but it’s still giving me a hard time.
So, I tried some “not-writing,” per Turbo Monkey’s Sarah McGuire (and added her book Valiant to my TBR pile while I was at it). That… didn’t get me unstuck. I’ve had great success with that approach in the past (especially during college, where my roommates would all watch me playing Snood and ask tentatively how the essay was going) but unfortunately my mental landscape just looked like
So I decided to try the 13-step outline suggested by Chuck Wendig at his blog. But that also gave me Tumbleweed Brain (aka “Blank Paper Panic,” an issue that was freezing me in my boots.
Then I tripped over Tess Hilmo’s “Best Plot Help Ever,” a little paper foldable that sounded cute and fun and sort of like those MASH things or a ‘flapdoodle’ (srs education term for a folded-up/cut paper study aid) and I decided I would try one of those for each WIP and see if any gears started turning.
And turn they did — more on that tomorrow!
I’ve been in one of those emotional fugue states where very little gets done that isn’t absolutely necessary – so I’ve definitely blown it re: this year’s resolution to blog weekly. Hmm. Perhaps, since it’s the solstice, I’ll have a mid-year reboot?
Or perhaps not.
I’ve been re-reading old favorite books, playing with a toddler, and watching my husband play the video game I got him for Valentine’s Day, so for once I’ve been busy with good things… but very busy, nonetheless.
I’ve also been doing some research for my WIPs and absolutely ignoring the fact that I should be prepping for the fall (I’m teaching English 10, which I haven’t taught in 10 years, so… basically a new class). It’s been great!
I keep telling myself that fallow periods are important for creativity, but it’s still a bummer. At least I’ve got a writing group to yell at me (in a good-natured way) when I fail to produce. Outside accountability is very important to me!
So, been doing the 10-minute-March thing for a week, and I gotta say–it’s been fun!
But I don’t want to waste my whole ten minutes on the blog, so…
That’s all for this week!
So, yesterday while I was wasting time on Twitter, I read another blogger’s post about how she wrote a novel in ten minutes a day.
I mean, I definitely waste more than ten minutes a day.
But I have a hard time getting into the writing mindset that quickly–and I often waste a bunch of time staring at a blank screen, trying to feel moved or motivated.
I think maybe I need to cut that out…?
So for the month of March, I’m going to try the whole Ten Minutes A Day thing!
Three days a week my Creative Writing class has ten minutes of freewriting a day, so I’ll join them for that instead of using that time for entering attendance, answering emails, whatever.
The other four days I’ll have to come up with some other ten minutes, but I bet I can do it for a month… right?
Anyway, I’ll be tweeting about it, too, so feel free to join me: #10MinMarch
(And now to go put in ten minutes for today, even though March isn’t till tomorrow… woohoo!)
Soooo yeah. That resolution of mine to blog more? Well…
Oh, and those ten pages I was supposed to turn in to my writing group… last Tuesday?
Hmm. And when is enrollment for grad classes for this semester? Oh. Really? Three months ago, you say…?
Yeah. I’ve been falling behind.
But I’m enjoying the ride and I haven’t fallen TOO far to catch up (I hope?) so here we go again!
Some things I’ve been putting off lately: Continue reading there’s that whooshing sound again
Well, having spent yet another month sick (do not ask me about last week–it was horrifying) I have fallen behind on my blogging goals AND everything else in life… but, on the plus side, I now have a WattPad account and I entered SyFy’s The Magicians writing contest with an entire HOUR to spare.
My entry is very silly.
I do, however, intend to read some of the others.