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  • Re: Oh-oh...big mistake
    by pestcontrol at 13:33 on 29 May 2006
    Thanks everyone- this is a fantastic forum. I'm glad you remember what it's like to be scrubbing about in the foothills, thinking "How the heck do I ever get up there?"

    The difficulty of writing has certainly made me appreciate published novelists. I've been very scathing in the past about some established booker winners etc, and now I'm trying my baby version, I think that even if I don't like what they've written, it's still a tremendous achievement to create another universe.

    Tony, you hit the nail on the head about the "fun" element- at the moment, I'm seeing my writing as another Thing I've Got To Do. If only I could refresh myself just as you refresh a computer page. Hopefully all the tricks you've shared with me will help.

    It's also comforting to realise that the fact it's hard, doesn't mean I'm not doing it right. I have a friend who swims competitively, and he says that if he gave up everytime he had a bad swim, he'd still be in the paddling pool...
    Thank you.
  • Re: Oh-oh...big mistake
    by Colin-M at 14:18 on 29 May 2006
    Just come to this and haven't read all of the replies, but my advice, if you want to keep with it, is to stand back and find the most boring job in the house you can find. Painting a room is idea, but a big pile of ironing, cleaning - something really monotonous. No radio. No TV. If you get bored enough, the scenes you need will play out on their own. Go back to these scenes several times, then at the end of the week, write em down.

    Long bus journeys or boring walks work too.

  • Re: Oh-oh...big mistake
    by nr at 14:27 on 29 May 2006
    I'm glad you remember what it's like to be scrubbing about in the foothills,

    That's because a lot of us still are!

  • Re: Oh-oh...big mistake
    by Skippoo at 14:31 on 29 May 2006
    Similar to what Dee and Emma have said about free-writing and writing bios of your characters, you could also try questioning or 'hotseating' them. There's an old thread where we talked about this here:


    And Pestcontrol, just to put another perspective on this: I actually have kind of the opposite problem to you. I know my characters really well and apparently write them well, but I often get feedback that the plot isn't 'big' enough. So we all have different things we struggle with; different strengths and weaknesses. I'm sure you have plenty of writing strengths too.

  • Re: Oh-oh...big mistake
    by rogernmorris at 17:33 on 29 May 2006
    it did make me think (with a smile) of a section from the Max Beerbohm short story, Savonarola

    I must check out that story, tiger bright, it sounds very funny.

    As for getting over blocks, dunno, I suppose different things work for different people. Sometimes when I'm stuck I start spouting complete nonsense - either words that don't belong together or completely made-up words. It's a bit like a mental puke. I feel a lot better afterwards. I don't necessarily write this stuff down, but I do sometimes say it out loud. Does this make me mad? Have I said too much? Ah, wtf.
  • Re: Oh-oh...big mistake
    by tiger_bright at 17:44 on 29 May 2006
    Not mad at all, Roger. Sounded sane to me. The Savonarola story is part of Beerbohm's <I>Seven Men...</I> collection which also includes a brilliant ghost story.

  • Re: Oh-oh...big mistake
    by Account Closed at 14:53 on 30 May 2006
    Hi again, Pest

    I feel duty-bound, as you are new, to issue some sort of warning:
    Whilst WW is a fantastic site, on an uninspired day the temptation to surf the forums during your 'writing time', instead of forcing yourself to get down to the nitty-gritty of putting pen to paper, is irrepressible.
    I tell myself that it's not a waste of time -which it usually isn't as most threads are very insightful. I just find it too tempting, on a day like today, when my plot and characters seem to be floundering.


  • Re: Oh-oh...big mistake
    by Prospero at 13:19 on 31 May 2006
    my character surprised me by doing X or Y today,

    Pradoxically, my characters do it all the time. I never no what the little buggers are going to get up to next. I turn my back and they're off.

    I think that is why I write such short stories, I have to nail 'em quick while they are still disorientated. Talk about Gremlins.

    But for all that there is much wisfdom in what Emma and Dee say.

    For me it is going to be sorting out a location and getting a feel for how it looks. Then I can get my box of soldiers out and let them loose.


  • Re: Oh-oh...big mistake
    by shellgrip at 13:26 on 31 May 2006
    I was having a long chat with my muse in the pub last night and several times in response to his suggestions for character actions I said 'I don't think he'd do that'.

    In my particular case I'm not entirely certain why I thought that, the book is barely started and the characters only partially established. Perhaps I've got a better idea of them in my head than I currently know. Or perhaps it was the beer.

  • Re: Oh-oh...big mistake
    by Cornelia at 17:05 on 31 May 2006
    When I first began with fiction and complained to a work colleague, also a writer, that my novel was going nowhere and the characters were dull he said 'Start a fire'. I think what he meant was that it would really tell me a lot about the characters to write about their reactions - they were all at a party when the next door flat caught fire. I liked the fire chapter so much I left it in and it not only made the characters wake up but introduced a whole new sub-plot. I'm not so sure it's helpful to you, though, because I didn't have a deadline and it did take a while to finish. Good luck anyway.

  • Re: Oh-oh...big mistake
    by EmmaD at 21:00 on 31 May 2006
    Sheila, it's a very good point. If you suddenly introduce an extraneous element, you may well find that your instinct happily dictates exactly what your characters would do, and you'll suddenly know a whole lot more about them.

    Raymond Chandler's prescription was similar - bring in a man with a gun.

  • Re: Oh-oh...big mistake
    by pestcontrol at 06:48 on 01 June 2006

    Thanks everyone.

    So, in summary, I've got:
    start a fire
    get a gun
    do some ironing
    write a bio

    Must remember not to get these activities confused ;-)

    Seriously, these are wonderful suggestions, so thank you. I was reading through the "hot seat" thread last night and realised, thankfully, I know more about my mc than I thought. The other characters are still hazy, though- they need more firing/ironing/hot seating.

    At the risk of making a crass analogy, reading your posts has made me think of icebergs. The bit the reader finally gets to see is only the 5% poking above the surface. I have to work on the 95% down in the depths now.

    (And, possibly, on my metaphors)
    Thank you.
  • Re: Oh-oh...big mistake
    by Prospero at 08:35 on 01 June 2006
    Icebergs, that is actually a very good analogy. It will also account for I why I had a sudden inexplicable urge to change my wallpaper to Antartica, (Dee will understand) that and the outside temperature of 44 degress of course


  • Re: Oh-oh...big mistake
    by EmmaD at 11:34 on 01 June 2006
    Yes, an iceberg is a great analogy, I'll remember that. And certainly the reader only sees the 5%, but as the writer we're something like a polar bear sitting on top too; there's a vast bulk of stuff that we're only half-aware of, and sometimes we learn more of it by scratching away at the ice, and sometimes by lying back and dreaming.

  • Re: Oh-oh...big mistake
    by Prospero at 11:38 on 01 June 2006
    I'll go for the lying back and dreaming.

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