Before the Novel - further up and further in

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Before the Novel

I've been having a fair amount of difficulty writing lately. No... it isn't the writing part, exactly -- rather, it's the plotting that must happen before writing. I have trouble with this stage. Always. If you recall, I put up quite a few frenzied posts before NaNo last year, this being one of them. And once again, you, my blog readers, are the ones who get the front seat to my writing weaknesses. So be my guest -- get comfortable, grab a pillow and a cappuccino while we commiserate together.

I'm plotting for Camp NaNoWriMo. Tentatively. Because as we all know, I tend to have a hard time committing to writing challenges until they're almost upon me. (Even on November 1st I was completely unsure of whether I wanted to let NaNo devour my entire month. I succumbed, of course.) So, when I say that I'm plotting for Camp NaNo, take it with a grain of salt. Or a pound of salt. Whatever you wish.

Anyway, even if I don't do Camp NaNo, I've decided I'm going to write something this summer. What might that something happen to be, you ask? You know her well. Perhaps too well. Or perhaps not at all. Her name... is Avary. (The idea of her originated here, and subsequent posts about her can be found here.)

Yes. I've finally decided to write her story. I've wanted to write it for a long time, and even tried writing it multiple times. Now I'm taking the leap... and I've landed straight into a plothole. Lots of them. Plotholes are huge gaping crevices in the middle of the ground, filled with inky words and scattered ideas that somehow don't want to cooperate. Plotholes are my worst enemy (besides Sauron, but we didn't come to talk about my escapades in Middle Earth, did we?).

Anyway. Avary's story was born around two years ago on a dark and stormy night. (Just kidding. I have no idea what the weather was.) I had a dream about that reeked of sci-fi and fantasy, filled with time travel and a random dude named Brian who had lots of problems to juggle.

This story has gone through so many revisions. So many characters. Brian has now become Ryan, and I love him to pieces. And somehow, somewhere, Avary intruded on this mess of a novel inkling by quietly wiggling her way into my thoughts and ideas.

Now, however, my plot is a mess. It turns out that novels don't take kindly to you deleting entire characters. (Ha, yes, I deleted one. Violet. I don't regret it; she needed to leave.) I have several gaping plotholes, as I've mentioned before, and as soon as I figure out how to fix one, I'm faced with several others. One of the biggest ones is my characters (except Ryan, of course, who has been positively wonderful through this whole process). My current two-dimensional problems. Avary. Bailey. Sawyer. Their personalities are incredibly void, lacking life and vigor to make them whole people. Maybe it's because they're too perfect -- or, maybe, in Avary's case, they're too flawed. I don't know.

So here I am, once again in the place I was last October, trying to find a plot. Grasping for something -- anything to hold onto. And desperately hoping that my ideas aren't cliche, hoping that I'll find something positively brilliant that will shake the world to its core. (It probably doesn't help that I just finished The Hunger Games trilogy and I'm wondering how on earth I can write a masterpiece like that.) I'm also overusing semi-colons; I recently discovered how wonderful they are and they make me feel highly pretentious.

But I digress. Any advice would be welcomed. Or maybe just well-wishes and prayers. I've been here before, and I'll be back here again. It's the place where ideas collide and ink is poured and sweat stands out on my poor little forehead while my brain is sorely overworked. It's the place before the novel.

(And then we have the actual writing bit, which could be just as torturous, but I refuse to think about that.)

9 comments:

  1. Haha, this post cracked me up. Also, I know just how you feel. I'm pretty much having the same problems with the novel I'm planning for Camp NaNo. It's terrible, but it's worth it.

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    1. Really? Good to know I'm not alone. We should talk. Oh wait. We already do.

      Yeah, I know it will be worth it. I'm just hoping a mostly-complete plot will walk up and smack me on the head like it did for NaNo. Then again, things never happen the same way twice, do they?

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  2. I'm an admitted Pantser. I really have no idea how I'd cope with NaNo this year. I plot the end, and pieces in the middle, but rarely do I plot anything more. With that in mind, my novels can sometimes take crazzzzy turns!

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    1. I was a Pantser too. Maybe I still am. I actually have no idea anymore. It took me two years of NaNoing to decide to try to outline, and last year's attempt was mostly successful. Since then, I think I'm slowly converting to the dark side of Planners. (Sorry, but they have cookies!)

      No, in all seriousness, I think I'm a bit of both. For me, I like to have a general plan and outline, but there's always room for my novels and characters to surprise me. (Which they usually do.) Pantsing is probably the most fun option of the two, though. :P

      Have you done NaNo before, or would this be your first year if you do participate?

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  3. You can do it! I too, both love and hate the plotting process. But take it from someone who is re-writing a draft of a book that had NO concrete plotting...it IS neccessary! LOL
    Can't wait to see how her story pans out!

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    1. Thank you! I totally agree -- planning helps so much. My first novels are pretty terrible because I didn't plot much. On the other hand, I tried my hand at outlining for my most recent novel, Silver Tears. I'm almost done with it and it seems at least halfway decent, which is really good. I think the editing process is a little easier if you do plan ahead.

      Thanks again! Avary can't wait to see how her story pans out either. ;)

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  4. *sends sympathy hugs*
    I feel exactly the same with my trilogy rewrites right now. The main problem is simply making the plot more exciting ... and convincing hte second book that it does not need to be twice the length of the other two *facepalm*. And the plot holes ... thirteen year old me clearly had no sense of continuity *facepalm again*

    Still, we shall plot, moan and suffer together, shall we? I hope you're into tormenting characters as much as I am, mwua ha ha ha ha ha ha!

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    1. Wait you were 13 when you wrote A So Called Hero?... gebus my mind just boggled.. .where has tiem gone! Anyway I'm not here to cheat you you *giggles*

      Anyway HI! *waves at Sky* Blame Charely if you start seeing me a lot. :}

      I've generally been a panser and only just started to learn about the outlining a story thing. Amazing what NaNo teaches you eh? I didn't do a lot of plotting with my last NaNo novel, and I dread looking at it as I know the characters, okay one specifically liked to cause trouble and... lets just say I had to force her to end up where I wanted her to be.

      I'm going to try plotting for NaNo this year. I'm not doing the camp becuase I've a novel to rework (which is getting plotted out along with the other two books in the trilogy so I can hopefully even out the action some *tumbs nose at the book*).

      Anyway... Good Luck and Have fun!

      :} Cathryn / Elorithryn

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  5. Charley: Aw, thanks for the sympathy hugs! They are greatly appreciated.

    Oh, yes. I have one of those novels too. My very first story was started and half-written at the age of twelve. I still have yet to go back and see if it's salvagable, but I'm hoping I won't do too much cringing at my former self. No, really, I'm being overdramatic -- I'm sure it's not as bad as I say it is... I hope. :P

    Aha! Suffering together is a wonderful plan. It depends on the level of torture you suggest... Making my characters lives miserable? Yes. Death? ... Not yet. (Though, do notice that I said yet. ;)

    ---

    Cathryn: Welcome! It's nice that you stopped by, thank you for taking the time to comment!

    Ohhh yes. I know all about terrible NaNo novels. My first ever time trying to reach 50K was a disaster. Probably one of the worst things ever written... but hey, at least I won NaNo. Still, I do not hold my NaNo novel for that year in the highest regard. :P

    NaNo does teach me a lot, yes! I don't know if I would have taken the leap into outlining/plotting without it. I hope reworking your novel goes well, and I hope NaNoWriMo goes well this year, too!

    Again, thanks for stopping by!

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