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