And one step back. First the preface. This post is about writing, so if that’s of no interest to you… well, maybe I can post a picture of a cute puppy at the end.
Now, on with the post…
I’ve been working on Year 12 (sequel to HPM) for a few months now, and at first was moving along at a pretty good clip. In the last few weeks, I hit right at 55k words. But that was when it occurred to me that the story wasn’t working for me. The writing itself was going all right, but the story just dried up. It got… boring. Now, if you’re a writer, or you follow writers regularly, you’ve more than likely heard the terms “plotter” and “pantser” flung about. The terms refer to the main categories of writing habits – either you methodically outline and plot your books out in an organized manner (plotter), or you simply dive into the story, damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead, flying by the seat of your pants (pantser).
I’ve always considered myself more of a pantser. If I try to outline the story rather than simply let it “come to me”, then I tend to lose interest in it. I mean, once I know all the nuances of the story, what’s the point of putting it down on “paper”, right? From my perspective, that’s always been the down side of plotting. Of course, the down side of “pantsing” is that the writer (that would be yours truly) sometimes goes off on tangents, writing scenes or chapters that do nothing to move the story along. When that happens, I have to go back and remove the offending section, backtracking along the plot until I can get things moving in the right direction again.
So there are pros and cons to both schools. Nevertheless, I’ve always been more comfortable with the pantsing school than plotting. But I’m afraid it’s failed me this time. I recently went down a rabbit hole that I thought was going to move the plot along, and invested several days’ worth of writing into it. But when I got to a pivotal point in the story, it all fell flat. The motivations for the characters were gone, the actions became forced, and the ending I was hurdling toward was, as I stated at the beginning, just plain boring.
I spent a few more days trying to salvage the plot line, but it was a lost cause. After that, I spent another few days trying to come to grips with the fact that I was going to have to scrap the last several chapters, and fix plot links in a few more. And let me tell you, that’s a pretty depressing thing for a writer to deal with. On top of that, I now had two plots banging around in my head, and I kept getting confused as to what character was supposed to be doing what at any given time.
Drastic measures were called for, so I did something I never thought I would do with my writing. I sat down a few days ago and hammered out a rudimentary outline of the plot. As I write now, I have the main manuscript open on one screen, and the outline open on the other. I know it’s not a true outline, but it gives me some touchstones that I can use to rebuild the lost ground in the story. Hopefully it will be enough to get me back on track.
Enough whining for now. Time to get back to work and regain some ground on the book. But just so you know I haven’t forgotten my promise, here’s the cute puppy picture I promised you. Meet my daughter’s baby, Prince Zuko of the Fire Nation (aka, Zuko). Ain’t he cute? J
All right, that’s it for now. It’s time for me to get back to work.
Stay safe everyone.