Getting stuck, getting unstuck

April 19th, 2015

There comes a point, in every draft of every book, when I get stuck. The energy seems to drain out of the writing, the characters sag into a pathetic, whimpering heap, and I’ve got no idea what comes next.

That’s what happened this week.

A few books ago, I would’ve pressed on, telling myself not to be a wimp. Now I stop, go right back to the beginning of the book and start reading. Because what I’ve discovered is that if the story grinds to a halt, the problem isn’t right there – it’s some way back. And I have to go back and find it.

It’s usually something to do with motivation – I haven’t got the main character quite right, her motives aren’t strong enough or clear enough to drive the story through to the end. It’s like trying to build a house on a shaky foundation. So I have to dig deep into the foundation until I find out what’s wrong, then I get out the bricks and mortar, and a sledgehammer, and I fix it. Or at least I try. Sometimes I have to have a couple of goes. Sometimes I change a whole lot of stuff, then change it back again. Sometimes I only have to change ONE paragraph to fix it. (That’s fairly rare.)

This time, after reading from the beginning, I found the problem three chapters back from the sticking point. I think I’ve fixed it. I HOPE I’ve fixed. I’ll find out tomorrow, when I keep writing.

Meanwhile, I have it on good authority that Harry has almost come to the end of the first volume of his ‘memoirs’. I gather there will be a break before he starts on the second volume. If you haven’t caught up with them yet, you’ll find his first post here.

And here’s today’s photo: when I was a kid there was a song called ‘The Road to Mandalay’, with words taken from a poem by Rudyard Kipling. One of the lines that I always remember is ‘And the dawn comes up like thunder out of China, ‘cross the bay.’

Well the dawn came up like thunder this morning. Only it was Carlton Beach across the bay, not China. 🙂



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