Coming Unstuck

Last night I breathed a huge sigh of relief as I finally, finally, FINALLY finished chapter 14 of Resistance!! I sat down to write for an hour; two hours later I called it quits and the dreaded chapter was behind me after nearly two weeks of halfhearted attempts resulting in paragraph length progress at most.

If you’ve been following this blog at all, you know that Resistance has been a slow process in and of itself due to many reasons that are explicated elsewhere in the blog. But chapter 14 holds a special place in my heart as being especially difficult. I felt the writer’s block coming back. I was avoiding my computer and second guessing my ideas. For the first time in a long time, I made excuses not to write and let myself use them. These are the components of an unhealthy relationship with the manuscript. There is a large difference between taking some time to actively think about the next move for your story and just taking some time off because you “don’t feel like it.” Just like it becomes easier to get in the habit of writing regularly, it is easy (if not easier) to get into the habit of not writing. So last night was excellent for me–I overcame what could have been a potential writer’s block event and rekindled my interest in the story now that I am over this hurdle.

There are some legitimate reasons (besides just falling into a lazy spell) that this chapter was so slow coming. First of all, I struggled with pacing. I had so many events I wanted to cram into this chapter. I knew the initial scene and the final scene I wanted to set. Thus, I became frustrated sorting out how to deal with all the events that needed to play out in between chapter end and beginning. Essentially, the chapter was to encompass an entire day, starting in the early morning and concluding 24 hours later. Major events would be happening in the early morning and late night of the day. While I had a rough outline of what Mara would be doing during the day, my mind couldn’t place enough significance on these events to flesh them out for the text. This is where the halting writing habits commenced.

The answer to this pacing problem was obvious and took me an embarrassingly long time to come to. Simply do not write the parts of the day that aren’t sparking interest. If they seemed boring and superfluous to me as a writer, they certainly would to a reader. When reading a novel, every single event of every single day is not related–this is the very essence of pacing. My hang-up was that I felt the potential to incorporate importance into the events that I ultimately decided to leave out. However, in the future I can always come back and add details or scenes as necessary. The important thing for now, I realized, was to get the chapter written.

So I cut out the chunk of events that was holding me up and segued from one key scene, building up suspense and then arcing it back down, to the next end of the day scene where I once again started the build-up of suspense. The chapter climax came at the end, and will hopefully keep the reader hungry to turn the page. Ending chapter 14 has certainly given this writer fuel to keep the story alive.

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