Sunday, July 21, 2013

Getting stuck on what the story is really about

I've been writing, which is--I know, pretty strange in itself, but I've been writing and thinking, and trying to figure out a workshop I'm doing in December. I know I should be working on the subplot workshop, but I got hooked into figuring out how to make a working writer with productivity issues more productive. Maybe I just have a bad case of healer, heal thyself. No matter what I did--it felt "wrong". It had no umphf. It just laid there, all limp and pitiful. I'd figured out the internal and external drivers. I knew the heroine's core event. I knew what I wanted to happen, but I couldn't get it down on paper until I thought about the inciting incident.

I knew the inciting incident was the heroine's meeting with the hero. It's a romantic suspense, and it's right up front where it should be. It took me ten days, working my way through my own advice to take a giant step back and say, "The story isn't about the murder." The murder is simply how I show the story. The story is  about the heroine accepting she had perception issues and got messed up thinking love was some idealized emotion. And that all the time she'd thought she wasn't loved, she'd been loved very much.

  • I'd forgotten the story was character-driven and set up the externals instead of the arc. It might be a romantic suspense, but it's a character-"driven" romantic suspense and the suspense is elements, not the whole shebang.
  • I didn't ask myself what the story was really about.
  • And more importantly, I didn't start troubleshooting until I'd rewritten the beginning twenty times.
I didn't waste anything, since I just moved the scene to chapter two, but next time I'll start troubleshooting earlier.


Lisa said...

Thank you for this post, Jodi. It's funny, but until I read this, I never thought of starting with the character's arc first, and leaving the plot arc (the external story arc) till later. I've been doing it the other way round. (Maybe this is why I've been stuck???)

I've got some planning to do now for that arc, but it's going to be fun. :)

Jodi Henley said...

lol, I tell people to focus on the arc all the time--that the arc will "show" you the externals, but it's like being dropped by parachute on a heavily forested mountain. You "know" how to get off the mountain, but you can't see the mountain for the trees.

I think everyone gets stuck on the externals and needs someone to tell them to step back :(

Kristen Koster (Kaige) said...

Glad to hear you're writing again!

I think this was one of my biggest problems with the story I'm still struggling to get right, the way it is in my head. Good thing there are other ideas as well!

Thanks for putting it in perspective!

Jodi Henley said...

lol, Kaige!! It's been a long time since I've sat down to write anything serious (other than my tome), but this--this is doing well, and I can't wait to get back to it each night. And it's flowing together. Maybe Basho was right, you know? Once you soak it all in, forget it all and write. Your subconscious will get you there, with a little help from your conscious when you get stuck.

(ps, I'm tempted to make like Cherry Adair and say, "Finish the damned book(s)!" By the time I see you in San Antonio, I'd like to see you subbing Revealed and Beneath His Touch, okay? You can't move forward if you don't let go.)

(pss, (((hugs)) )