Some Write It Hot

October 12, 2010

Losing Direction AKA Losing Hope

Filed under: Writing life — dangerouslysexy @ 04:00
Tags: , , , ,

This is my first post for Some Write it Hot, and I took a while to think on what I might blog about. I did consider posting a free read — one of my many unfinished first chapters — which in turn got me to thinking about the reason I have so many unfinished stories lurking on my hard drive.

If there’s one thing I can guarantee when writing a book it’s that I’m going to get stuck halfway through. It happened with the first two and it’s happening now with my third. Frustrating as hell, but there’s nothing to be done except write through the block. In my case this means adding a whole lot of new scenes, many of which I won’t use, until I find one that works to carry the story forward in a believable way.

Before I was published, when I got myself into difficulties with my stories, I’d put them away for a bit. Just for a month or so until inspiration struck. That month would soon turn into half a year, then another six months on top of that until I’d lose all interest in revising the story at all.

Now I’m published and trying to make a career for myself, I can’t afford to ‘put stories away’ anymore. I need to work through the frustration of not knowing where the hell the story is going next.

My latest WiP, a contemporary novella, started off slightly differently from my other stories. I swapped the unreliability of the ‘pantsing’ method, in favour of a more structured approach and wrote a detailed outline. I thought if I had a basic storyline to work with I’d avoid writing myself into a corner. I’d know exactly where I was going because I‘d have my map. A perfectly workable beginning, middle, and end. Sorted. I’d write this book in a couple of months and get it submitted soon after.

The one thing I didn’t count on was my characters’ objections to being taken for granted. They won’t fit in with my outline, and they so far have refused point blank to sleep with each other in chapter 6. They’d much prefer to wait until chapter 9 when they’ve got to know each other a little better. Putting the sex off a few chapters is fine …in any other genre. But I write erotic romance, and my MCs are all of a sudden…shy. Shy is not in my outline. I checked. I could go right back to chapter 1 and make sure I write the shyness away but that would mess too much with what I already have. A rewrite would disrupt the flow and besides, I like chapters 1 through 5.

What I’m doing at the moment is writing a whole lot of new scenes until I find something that will work. Something to tempt them into bed without it reading as though I’ve forced them into the bedroom together. The process is very time consuming, and a lot of the new stuff I’ve written won’t be used in the finished manuscript, but it’s the only way I can get through the block. I can’t afford to put the story away and hope the solution will come to me in a dream, because it won’t.

I don’t like to make things easy for my character and they certainly don’t like to make things easy for me. I envy those authors who write their stories straight through without a hitch. So far I have 45000 words and the novella will only be around 30000 words long when I’m done. If only my characters would behave themselves, I’m sure I’d be more productive.

Read more from Ash Penn at her website


  1. That’s the best any of us can do Ash, keep plugging away! As you know my characters seldom do what they are told but that is what keeps things interesting, besides, their ideas are often better than mine. LOL Whatever you’re doing is working so keep it up. (Your MC, might want to take that advice too)

    Comment by Debbie Vaughan — October 12, 2010 @ 04:56 | Reply

  2. Great post, Ash.
    I have more than a few stories stuck in drawers myself, so I can relate.

    Comment by DA Kentner — October 12, 2010 @ 05:59 | Reply

  3. Eeeek! That’s a lot of cutting. I know what you’re talking about though. I have a file on my thumb drive called the graveyard where my flash fiction and stalled stories have gone to die. I keep thinking one day I’ll dive in there and tweak something. *sigh* Hope you find your way out of your first draft maze 😉

    Comment by Gillian Archer — October 12, 2010 @ 08:22 | Reply

  4. These are all signs of a great writer, Ash. Keep doing what you’re doing. Everything I have read of yours is great and I look forward to you completing another book which you will.

    Comment by Judith Leger — October 12, 2010 @ 08:28 | Reply

  5. I hear you, Ash. I have more than a few stories sitting on my computer waiting for me to get back to them someday. I plot ahead of time and they still get stuck sometimes in the middle. I’m not sure how that happens when you know how things are going to play out but sadly it does.

    I have no doubt you’ll be able to get this story back on track. Keep plugging at it. Heck maybe one of those scenes will work for a different book if you tweak it a bit. LOL

    Comment by Lauren Fraser — October 12, 2010 @ 14:34 | Reply

  6. I’m a panster too Ash and my characters are always running away with my plot. I know how you feel about getting lost in the middle but I know the results are worth the hard work because I have read your stories. Can’t wait to read the next one.

    Comment by Lillian Grant — October 12, 2010 @ 15:14 | Reply

  7. Thanks for all your support 🙂 I think I have finally sorted the problems with this book. The time frame now covers only 24 hours, where before it was over the course of a month. Next time I shall write such a detailed outline there will be no chance of detours.

    Comment by Ash Penn — October 13, 2010 @ 03:07 | Reply

  8. I agree with everyone else, your stories are well worth the wait. Especially since you write such unique characters. Onces who are flawed or who don’t fit into any pre-molded category of m/m erotic romance molds. It makes for a real read, one that carries you on a journey where you can’t help but reflect and think and feel. I loved Stray and can’t wait for your newest book.

    In my humble opinion, I have no idea why, in erotic romance, so many editors look for the main characters to screw around so early. Sometimes I think the most romantic aspect of the story is the strain of near misses, characters circling each other, working up the courage to get together, until they finally do and the celebration makes it so worth the wait.

    Comment by DH Starr — October 13, 2010 @ 05:29 | Reply

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: