To end this drought of blog posts, I am exploring another kind of ending which has occupied my thoughts not just today, but for several months now. How do you end a series of novels? I am coming up on this with the Capacitance series as I am about halfway into the manuscript of the final book. It’s an issue that I have avoided since the first word I put on the page of the first novel. My characters came out onto the page and began their stories, got more developed and are all hurtling towards…something?
If you’ve read any of my previous blog posts, you know that my writing style is improvisational. There is no master outline in my office delineating each twist, turn and conclusion of the Capacitance series. My mind has continually surprised me as I go through the writing process by providing these different plot twists and basically showing me where the story is going next. However, here at the end of all things (to quote Frodo Baggins) my improvisational brain is not coming through for me.
As a writer, I go through a lot of self confidence issues with my writing. My mind must turn each idea over and over and go back and forth with an argument on whether these words or ideas are even fit for paper before I can sit down and write. Ending my series is like a giant combination of all these insecurities combined. Will readers like this ending? How the heck do I take so many big issues and solve them all in a satisfying way? Is this idea exciting enough? These are just some of the questions hindering my progress.
Unsurprisingly, I am thinking about it too much. WAY too much. I have half a book left to get it done, after all. The biggest challenge here is just sitting down and getting back to it. I know I have talked about getting into other genres, but I really want to at least take the plot in Resistance to the next step so that it doesn’t totally lose momentum.
If anyone out there is interested in CP’ing or just reading 2.5 manuscripts, I think something really helpful here would be having someone to bounce ideas off of for a potential ending. If this sounds like something you would be interested in doing, drop me a line! 🙂
I’ve been off my writing grind for awhile, caught up in a busy time for my other job (driving grain trucks for harvest, believe it or not). It has given me time to realize, in a much more prolonged way, the processes I go through as an author. It was nearly a year ago that I made the big step which started me on the transition to “someday I will do this” to “I will do this now.” Over the past year I have learned a lot–to say the least! A lot of this learning has been about the industry, but much more has had to do with myself.
I go in cycles with my work. It starts out in trepidation, a lot of doubt and not much self confidence. But the need to write builds up and eventually I put words out there and feel an immense sensation of mental release.
Then I go back and read the words. This is an essential part of my process. When I’m writing I get so involved in the flow that I scarcely remember all the details the story accumulates. Thus, when I go back not only does it remind me of the plot twists, but it also builds my self confidence. I read my own words and my mind allows a not so humble thought (“hey, this doesn’t suck!”) to emerge.
This gives me confidence to write more. In my most confident moments I will go on a writing spree, accomplishing a chapter a day. I am high on the feeling of actually accomplishing my goals, and doing them well. This is how I got two manuscripts (rough drafts admittedly!) done in only six months.
After the high necessarily comes the low. For me, this comes with the denials, and the frustration of being stuck in the plot. When the writing isn’t flowing, I feel like it never will. When denial after denial flows into my inbox, I despair that is the only response my work will ever get. This is a recipe for sluggishness, a part of the process where I shy away from my Word document.
Thus, I’m back to trepidation and lacking self-confidence. Square one of my process. However, it is fascinating to inspect this circular way I work, and it is heartening to know that the next step is one in the right direction. Happy Friday!
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.