Subplot Frustrations

I’ve been working on my novel this week. Yay!!  It feels really great to be writing and getting so much done.  However, it can be very frustrating writing 2 or 3 plot lines that must somehow coincide and be resolved at the end of the story.  This frustration likely stems from me fighting with myself.  But it is still very real.

I start writing about the main characters and forget that I have a couple of subplots going that are important to the story. Then I feel like I am back-tracking when I focus on writing the subplots. I know they are necessary to further the story and create a more rich novel. But I feel like I will never move forward. This feeling is ridiculous, of course, because each word written furthers the storyline. Nevertheless, I feel that way.

So, I thought about writing each plot line separately, then weaving them together. Not wanting to spend too much time on it if it is a crazy idea, I still thought it might be worth a try. Well, let me tell you, as soon as I started that tack, I knew I shouldn’t. There’s way too much to remember and trying to weave them together after the fact would be even more frustrating. These plot lines happen concurrently, so writing them separately is foolish.

I will just have to realize that, as frustrating as it might be, I am not losing ground when I return to a chapter or scene and add in subplot storyline. Either that, or I will have to learn to write the plotlines concurrently. Truth is, this experience of writing my first novel is a major learning experience. And, overall, I am having so much fun doing it.

-AH

Initially published on my concurrent blog site at andreahunter313.wordpress.com

Advertisements

Beat Yourself Bloody Writing, Plot Resolutions Will Come

I have been struggling with the “middle” part of my book for some time.  Spending a lot of time reworking the outline time and again.  Differing plot lines, subplots, new characters.  Nothing seemed to work.   Then, yesterday morning, I woke up and there it was: a new subplot that weaves in nicely, adds tension and suspense, resolves the forward movement of the main plot, and is perfectly legitimate to the story line.  Wow.  I emitted a sigh of relief and felt the surge of refreshed excitement.

As writers, we can be battered by our stories.  It’s no wonder that first novel is often never finished. You hit a wall and bang your head against it over and over till the blood is streaming down your face and you writhe in pain.  Then, without notice or ceremony, the wall just suddenly crumbles and the view beyond opens up new possibilities and resolutions! Graphic, yes; true, for me it’s a resounding YES! Fortunately, I have some great support and I am not one to give up.

Of course, you have to go through all this pain to allow the resolution to formulate. For me, some of this new subplot contains small elements of some ideas I came up with while outlining, repeatedly. So all that battering is not futile.  Just painful. You think you’re never going to come up with another decent idea, then wham! The idea hits you over the head and you feel better!  At least I do.  I know that all the work is worthwhile and not every idea will be great.  But it does keep your juices flowing so you can get to the good ideas.

So, be battered, be in pain, but don’t give up.  The writing is important and necessary.  The book is important and necessary.  So, stick with it and reap the benefits.  No matter what, continuing the writing keeps the idea mill working and the rewards will pay out!

-AH

(Also posted on my other blog: https://andreahunter313.wordpress.com)

Thursday Thoughts

Sometimes I think I will never have another idea for another novel or story or poem once I finish this project.  I understand this is a common thought among new writers. But a lack of ideas is not possible for writers or any creative artist, unless you wallow in your doubts and fears.

Have you ever noticed that when you are writing your mind begins to explore and more ideas follow?  Creativity is like you body, it needs exercise.  Unfortunately, I can go for long periods of time without writing anything, so I really notice that when I do get back on track, the ideas just begin to flow, and I write more and more.  For me, the trick is creating time to write.  I get so caught up in other life stuff that I don’t get to it every day.  I need to stop allowing that and make a promise to myself to carve out writing time, no matter what.  I know writers who work on their projects late at night or early in the morning (I do that on occasion) and they are prolific writers.  Then I see tweets from other writers who worry about the same thing as I do — will they ever have another idea?

Well, I think the amount of ideas you have is directly related to the amount of writing you do.  These prolific writers never seem to run out of ideas.  Creativity need exercise.  Case in point — this blog post.  I started with a kernel of an idea about 8 minutes ago, thinking I would finish this by tomorrow (Friday)  and now I am up to 272 words. I wrote almost 1200 words yesterday in a couple of hours. So, exercise pays off.

Now I do have to keep up with household and life things, but the lessons of creating time to create are well-learned.  In addition to the creative muscle getting stronger and more prolific, those endorphins kick in too and create happiness within.  Just like physical exercise. Hmmm. Could be on to something here?

More writing equals more creativity.  Let creativity overflow!

-AH

Note: This post also appears on my other blog site: https://andreahunter313.wordpress.com

Uncharted Territory

I have submitted my query letter to a major national publication for an article I wrote about a small group here on Kaua‛i that helps physically- and mentally-challenged people experience surfing. Wow…I can’t believe I’m actually doing this. It’s time, I suppose to  dip my toes into the deep waters of a national publication and see what happens.  One day, I hope to be published regularly in national publications, so I have to start somewhere, right?  Of course, I am looking into other publications as well, but I wanted to.  May as well take the leap.  The worst they can do is reject my submission.

This is part of the dream I am living: working at home with my husband and writing my novel along with some poetry, articles, and essays from time to time.  I am a writer!  Excitement and dread filled my whole being as I clicked on the send button for that query.  Yes, it was that deep for me.  Aspiring to meet my goals, though, so satisfying!

After I have submitted queries (or whatever) to the other magazines I have in mind, I will go back to outlining the middle of my novel.  That’s a different issue…I seem to be stuck at the beginning of the middle. I need to get my characters through the maze in a convincing, realistic manner.  I feel like the stuff I am thinking about is too contrived, so I keep scrapping and starting new. Well, I suppose that is normal, right? It’s difficult to be satisfied with your own work.  At least it is for me, it’s part of my writing life.

———————————–
This post is also published on my other blog https://andreahunter313.wordpress.com.  One of these days I will stick to one or the other. 🙂

Differing Writing Styles

I am one of those people who writes for different venues.  I have been a technical writer of manuals and policy docs, a poet, a prose writer of fiction and non-fiction.  Each style of writing has different conventions and requirements.

I write about this now because I am struggling with switching between styles and how this affects my writing projects.  Because I am writing two different projects right now (a new article and my novel) I am having trouble shifting.  I also have such a long history in technical writing that the conventions of that style leak into all my prose.

As I write my novel, I notice my prose can become quite succinct.  This style is great for a manual or a procedure, but it doesn’t lend itself to creating the space in which the plot is taking place. So, I find myself adding more scenery and more action to the chapters as I go back to reread them.  I think this is one of the reasons it is taking me so long to write it.

As I work on my article I shift between writing the hard facts and setting the scene so the reader can get the feel of the place while understanding the subject.  While my background lends itself to writing the facts, I continually struggle with setting the scene.  I wonder if I am getting to poetic or vivid in my descriptions and if that takes away from the facts.  I have so much to learn about writing articles.

I know there are others out there who write for different venues.  How do you handle the switch between styles?

scroll image

Characters Must Grow

Sometimes, rather than writing, I allow myself to get caught up in the visuals.  I am doing that now.  Changing the look of my blog sites, adding widgets, changing themes.  It’s another way that I express my creative side. But I also think it’s important to allow my blog site to reveal who I am, as a writer, as a human being.  I change, I am not static. So, my blog sites change.

As I think about real life change, I realize that story characters change also.  I received a new issue of WRITER’S DIGEST the other day and one of the titles struck me: “The Science of Character Change.” The caption reads “If your protagonist doesn’t evolve, your story will die on the page.” Oh my gosh! How scary is that?

So, of course, I start to wonder if my heroine is too bland.  How can she grow and “evolve” during the course of the story?  And all sorts of scenarios start to spill out.  Then, there’s the antagonist.  I have struggled with his outcome.  But I realize I have a few different ways he can change also. So I begin to relax a bit.

Once calmed down again, I remember that I know that characters have to change in some way during the course of the story. It’s the natural course of events.  Of course, there are those characters that won’t change, but the main characters must.  Their development makes the story real, plausible.

There are so many facets to writing a good story that others want to read.  It’s a wonder that any of us write at all. Character growth and plot development, sub plots, continuity, tying up loose ends, editing, re-editing.  A good story idea is not easily put to the page.  The thought and planning that goes into the story idea to manifest it on the page is daunting, phenomenal, exciting, gratifying, and enjoyable.  We writers love what we do and it’s so worth the effort. Keep on writing!

-AH

(also posted on http://andreahunter313.com)

Happy New Year

Aloha and Hau’oli Makahiki Hou (Happy New Year)!  We all know this is the time of year when we make our resolutions to improve ourselves over the next year. I am no exception to this custom.  We all want a fresh start. What better time than the beginning of a new year? It brings about feelings of excitement, hope, and resolve.

With the promise of the new year comes some major changes for me.  I am focused on writing more (gee, aren’t we all), but this year I am doing something about it.  I am already setting up the necessary research for my next article and I am making a major change in my daily life — more on that later.

Writing took a whole new turn for me in 2013.  I had an article published in Kauai Traveler magazine, I started a new project in poetry, and  I learned a lot about my characters and the direction my story wanted to take. The latter  created some consternation, though, as I realized I needed to create an outline for the meat of the book — I have the beginning and the end, but not the middle! Well, I suppose I should have created the outline in the beginning!  Who knew that the outline would also help me with the synopsis? Hahaha. Every writer! Well, I can certainly say that I ‘m learning as I go! Frustrating and exhilarating at the same time.

All in all, while my novel has not moved forward in word count over the latter part of the year, it has in structure and plot planning.  And, with the publication of an article under my belt, I think 2013 was a successful writing year. This year I am making my writing life more important, riding on the new by-line to the next project and changing some things that need to be addressed in order to free me up for more writing.

I have also discovered that the more I write, the more ideas flow. It’s a known fact that when you exercise your body, it’s functions improve. Apparently the same goes for the brain and the creative process.  You know that little fear monster that tells us once we finish this project, we won’t have any more ideas for new projects? I once feared that, if I ever finished this novel, I would never have an idea for a new one. Well, I don’t think that’s true, anymore.  I have index cards with ideas and short descriptions written on them to prove it!

Time to get ready for the day job.  I have been on vacation for the past week and I am reluctant t go back — some of that reluctance comes from not knowing what to expect when I return.  Who did or didn’t do what that I will have to deal with this morning.  But that’s normal.  The first week or so after you return from vacation, you spend all your time catching up on all the work you missed.

As for the major change I referred to earlier in my post — more on that in a future post. Soon, friends, soon.

-AH