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Writers... help! I can't finish the story!

Posted on 08/17/2006 8:36:45 PM PDT by Number57

I've had this story worked out in my mind for going on twenty years. 1989. But now... I am stuck. I started a book based on it, but I'm no writer, obviously. I constantly re-read and edit, and re-read and edit more.

Probably because I've posted part of the story on sites that critique writing.

Anyway. I've hit a wall. A large brick wall. I've since stopped editing my own stuff, but try as I might, I can't write another chapter that I'm okay with. How do you, in your experience, get past it? I'll appreciate any help anyone can offer.


TOPICS: Your Opinion/Questions
KEYWORDS: attentionwhore; darkstormynight; dickandjane; newsactivism; pimp; seespotrun; stayinschool; stupidvanity; whoflippincares; writersblock; wtf
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1 posted on 08/17/2006 8:36:46 PM PDT by Number57
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To: Number57

Put it away. Don't go back to it until it 'calls you'


2 posted on 08/17/2006 8:39:04 PM PDT by nuconvert ([there's a lot of bad people in the pistachio business])
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To: Number57

Do you have an outline of the next batch of chapters, and a general outline of the entire story?

If not, write one. Start out with the general plot, and then start adding details of specific events. What you're outlining are ideas. By the time you have an outline you're happy with, writing the story should be easier.


3 posted on 08/17/2006 8:40:26 PM PDT by coconutt2000 (NO MORE PEACE FOR OIL!!! DOWN WITH TYRANTS, TERRORISTS, AND TIMIDCRATS!!!! (3-T's For World Peace))
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To: Number57

"Wake up, wake up," she said.

"Huh?" he asked.

"It was only a dream," she said. "Are you okay? Here, have some coffee. It must have been a nightmare, but it's all alright now."

And they laughed meaningfully.

The end.


4 posted on 08/17/2006 8:40:42 PM PDT by Piranha
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To: Number57

When in doubt, do what Papa Hemmingway did, go camping, fishing or hunting and drink a lot. :)


5 posted on 08/17/2006 8:40:59 PM PDT by Nachum
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To: Number57

"It was a dark and stormy night..."


6 posted on 08/17/2006 8:41:12 PM PDT by JRios1968 (This kid knows how to wallop a baseball!!!!!!)
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To: Number57

Do you have any idea what's happening *after* the chapter you're stuck on? Sometimes skipping ahead and then coming back to fill in the hole can get the ol' muse started up again.

I have trouble working that way, but it works for many!

Playing stuff in my head works for me. If I get really stuck, I'll go for a long walk and rehash and rehash a scene or scrap of dialog until it starts working.


7 posted on 08/17/2006 8:41:17 PM PDT by RosieCotton
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To: Number57

Write the last chapter... then the next to the last chapter...

Once you see where you want to story to end up, fill in the details...


8 posted on 08/17/2006 8:42:00 PM PDT by So Cal Rocket (Proud Member: Internet Pajama Wearers for Truth)
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To: JenB; TalonDJ; Corin Stormhands; Rose in RoseBear; Overtaxed; Lil'freeper; RMDupree

Writing ping...


9 posted on 08/17/2006 8:42:27 PM PDT by RosieCotton
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To: Number57

Put it down until something strikes a nerve. Or just start writing; striking out on a particular path until the stream starts flowing.


10 posted on 08/17/2006 8:42:33 PM PDT by samm1148
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To: Number57

Take a break. When I've produced my best writing, I completely hated everything I wrote by the time I was finished with revisions and editing. Take a couple of days off, make a basic outline, and naturally as you write the outline more and more detail will follow until you realize what it is you want to say.


11 posted on 08/17/2006 8:42:56 PM PDT by Firefigher NC
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To: Number57

lol. This thread is starting to sound like a thread for a cure for hiccups


12 posted on 08/17/2006 8:43:13 PM PDT by nuconvert ([there's a lot of bad people in the pistachio business])
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To: JRios1968
"It was a dark and stormy night..."

My favorites always begin with, "I never thought I'd be writing to Penthouse Letters..."

13 posted on 08/17/2006 8:43:26 PM PDT by randog (What the...?!)
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To: JRios1968

"...suddenly a shot rang out. The maid screamed."


14 posted on 08/17/2006 8:43:35 PM PDT by bootless (Never Forget - And Never Again)
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To: Piranha
Wake up, wake up," she said.

"Huh?" he asked.

"It was only a dream," she said. "Are you okay? Here, have some coffee. It must have been a nightmare, but it's all alright now."

And they laughed meaningfully.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting The end.

15 posted on 08/17/2006 8:43:49 PM PDT by digger48
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To: Number57
Back in the early 60's when I ran into a brickwall concerning my writing I took a hit of orange sunshine. It always seemed to smooth out my thought processes.

After you come down, please tell us all what your book is about.

TIA

FMCDH(BITS)

16 posted on 08/17/2006 8:44:18 PM PDT by nothingnew (I fear for my Republic due to marxist influence in our government. Open eyes/see)
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To: Number57

Do like the greats... drink heavily, womanize and kill wildlife.

(Note: I am not a writer so I don't do those things)


17 posted on 08/17/2006 8:45:14 PM PDT by Berlin_Freeper (ETERNAL SHAME on the Treasonous and Immoral Democrats!)
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To: RosieCotton

I 'play' the story in my head all the time... even when dreaming... but when I sit down to add what I've thought of or dreamt of, it doesn't seem to gel with the main plot, and I get really frustrated.

It's not like I'm trying to write the Great American Novel... far from it. It's just another horror story.


18 posted on 08/17/2006 8:45:22 PM PDT by Number57 ("Don't quote Dickens in my apartment!" Joe Young)
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To: Number57

"Hillary Clinton was arrested for aiding Al-Queda and sentenced to life in prison. Osama bin Laden when hearing of his lover's imprisonment, committed suicide. Billions around the world cheered. Life is beautiful. The End."


19 posted on 08/17/2006 8:45:40 PM PDT by LdSentinal
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To: Number57

I am a notoriously fickle writer. It might help to know precisely what you're stuck with (plotting, style, mood, character, etc), but a method that often works for me is to stop worrying about it. IOW, to find something else to pass the time and occupy my mind. Then, when the moment is right it seems whatever I'm wrestling over just falls into place and, wham! For me, it's usually when I wake up: It just seems to work itself out in my subconscious.

I dunno if this'd work for you, but it definitely tends to work for me. However, it can sometimes take days or even weeks for the inspiration to strike. More often it's overnight or 2 to 3 days at most. The key, however, is that I never, ever just sit around and stress over writer's block. If I did, I would never unblock.

PS. If you don't read what you write out loud now would be a good time to start doing that. It was phenomenal how much of a difference it made for me when I finally started doing it regularly, and it might get things flowing again for you.


20 posted on 08/17/2006 8:45:50 PM PDT by AntiGuv ("..I do things for political expediency.." - Sen. John McCain on FOX News)
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To: Number57

You have been writing a story about 1989 for 20 years?


21 posted on 08/17/2006 8:46:21 PM PDT by operation clinton cleanup
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To: Number57

Write the basic story BEFORE you edit. Never edit during the creative process. Editing come from a different part of your brain. Concentrate on your story - the entire story not just one chapter. Don't worry about spelling or grammar. Get the basic story straight first. Then go back and fill in the details. Then edit.


22 posted on 08/17/2006 8:46:25 PM PDT by Martins kid
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To: nuconvert

I've done that. Seems like every few years I get the 'call'... natch


23 posted on 08/17/2006 8:46:31 PM PDT by Number57 ("Don't quote Dickens in my apartment!" Joe Young)
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To: Number57

After you have assimilated the good advice of nuconvert, try simply writing, one word after another without regard for anything other than letting the words flow. There'll be time enough for editing after the writing's done. (Reminds me of a line from a Kenny Rogers song).


24 posted on 08/17/2006 8:46:57 PM PDT by Elsiejay (.)
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To: operation clinton cleanup

No. I started writing it in 1989. On a typwriter.


25 posted on 08/17/2006 8:47:24 PM PDT by Number57 ("Don't quote Dickens in my apartment!" Joe Young)
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To: Number57

Colonel Mustard did it in the dining room with the shish kabob..... Go on a cruise to the Bahamas


26 posted on 08/17/2006 8:47:48 PM PDT by tomnbeverly (Thank God for Domestic Surveillance or thank the President either way just be thankful.)
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To: Number57

I applaud your desire and dream to write.

In perusing your post I noticed a series of grammatical errors, not the least of which is ending sentences with a preposition.

I'd suggest you return to the basics, active and passive verb tense, diagraming a sentence, and in the absence of that, don't edit your own work.

Still, I encourage you.


27 posted on 08/17/2006 8:48:18 PM PDT by Hilltop
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To: Martins kid

That's probably the best advice... just do it.


28 posted on 08/17/2006 8:48:53 PM PDT by Number57 ("Don't quote Dickens in my apartment!" Joe Young)
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To: Number57
Don't worry about making a first draft perfect! Completion is more important than perfection.

Not to mention...while I'm writing I always feel like what I write is completely choppy and patch-worked - it's often obvious to me where I left off for a day or where I was in a different mood or not sure how I felt about a character. But when I go back to something I wrote years back, it usually turns out to work fine. It's the whole fly-on-a-painting effect. ;-) When you get too close to something, you get so focused on the little imperfections that you miss seeing that the whole work ain't that bad.
29 posted on 08/17/2006 8:49:03 PM PDT by RosieCotton
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To: Number57
Since you already have it plotted, write the last chapter first. With that goal in mind it'll be easy to create chapter headings from the first chapter onward. Kick out that first draft as fast as it flows, remembering that writers don't really write -- they rewrite.

Oh yes, Rule #1. Don't let ANYONE critique your stuff until you've finished it to your own satisfaction. No one's opinion really matters except yours...and the editor's, of course.

30 posted on 08/17/2006 8:49:04 PM PDT by Bernard Marx (Fools and fanatics are always certain of themselves, but the wise are full of doubts.)
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To: Hilltop

Thanks, Hilltop. lol


31 posted on 08/17/2006 8:49:39 PM PDT by Number57 ("Don't quote Dickens in my apartment!" Joe Young)
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To: Number57

It's very simple. Write the first sentence:

"Call me Ishmael."

Then, if you get stuck for further ideas, just skip to the end and write the last sentence:

"It was the devious-cruising Rachel, that in her retracing search after her missing children, only found another orphan."

Now all you have to do is fill in the middle!


32 posted on 08/17/2006 8:50:14 PM PDT by SirJohnBarleycorn
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To: Number57
The cure for writer's block is to write.

Sit down and write. Don't write perfect prose, don't write Steinbeck (its been done); just write.

Get a rhythm going. Do it every day. Repeat as needed. (Write, don't edit.)

For some insight, read Steinbeck's Journal of a Novel.

In the meantime, write!


[Writers write; editors edit.]

33 posted on 08/17/2006 8:50:45 PM PDT by Coyoteman (I love the sound of beta decay in the morning!)
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To: Number57

What is it that catches you (stops you)? Is it where to take the plot?

Do you believe you have a thorough understanding of the character, nature, and thought processes of your characters? Are your people well developed enough to solve the problem/s before them?

Can you take the main characters, set them on a "stage" with their problem, and "see" them interacting with each other the way real people would, to solve their problem/s?

If not, then I suggest going back and fleshing out the characters more fully, assigning them more depth of thought, action, and interaction, giving them more and varying qualities of personhood, so that you can see what they would do in a given situation.

Then beef up your plot to create a situation or beef up the situation you have already put them in, a situation where they HAVE to solve a problem to "survive," set them on that stage, and watch what they do. Then just write it down (and edit, etc.).


34 posted on 08/17/2006 8:50:56 PM PDT by GretchenM (What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul? Please meet my friend, Jesus.)
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To: Number57

Start the chapter: It was a dark and stormy night...


35 posted on 08/17/2006 8:51:40 PM PDT by REDWOOD99
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To: Number57
Write. Write, write, write. Start a blog, do something. I wouldn't worry about the creative writing sites too much at this time. I've seen some good criticism and some bad criticism on these sites. There are some, though, that show up to trash stuff, and you sound like you're having confidence problems right now. Write stuff you like for yourself and people who share your tastes.

Quit rewriting the same chapters over and over. Push forward, if the next chapter isn't what you want, write a bridge chapter to get past the part that's giving you a problem.

This will also sound kind of strange, but don't fall too much in love with one piece of work, or keep reworking the same things over and over. I don't know if you're into sports, but I've thought about this story a lot. Roger Staubach won two Super Bowls with the Cowboys, and played in two others. On a Thanksgiving day game, he was knocked out, and his backup, Clint Longley came in. Longley threw two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to win a game against the Redskins. He never had another significant NFL moment. Staubach commented in his autobiography that after that game, Longley would sit around looking at the game film over and over. Staubach said he quit working, and was happy just to relive that one moment of glory, over and over.

Keep pushing yourself, and your work will continually improve, but only if you keep working. When you are successful, move on. When you fail, move on. But keep writing.

36 posted on 08/17/2006 8:52:49 PM PDT by Richard Kimball (The most important thing is sincerity. Once you can fake that, everything else is easy.)
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To: Hilltop
ending sentences with a preposition

As Winston Churchill once said, ending a sentence with a preposition is something "up with which I shall not put."

37 posted on 08/17/2006 8:52:56 PM PDT by Piranha
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To: Number57
It's not like I'm trying to write the Great American Novel... far from it. It's just another horror story.

Well, no advice on how to end, but for the love of God, when the sexy teens finally figure out that a hideous monster is trying to kill them, have them get the gun out of the closet, not the flashlight...I hate that!!!

38 posted on 08/17/2006 8:52:57 PM PDT by txroadkill
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To: Number57
It's just another horror story.

Problem solved! Just make it exciting and scary and stop worrying about it!!

39 posted on 08/17/2006 8:52:59 PM PDT by Mind-numbed Robot (Not all that needs to be done, needs to be done by the government.)
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To: Number57; Petronski
I've hit a wall. A large brick wall. I've since stopped editing my own stuff, but try as I might, I can't write another chapter that I'm okay with. How do you, in your experience, get past it? I'll appreciate any help anyone can offer.

In my experience, writing with right-handed pencils significantly increases one's odds of developing severe writer's block.

Forgive me, Petronski! Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!

40 posted on 08/17/2006 8:53:01 PM PDT by jdm (I gotta give the Helen Thomas obsession a rest.)
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To: Number57; Admin Moderator
...I'm no writer...

Did you answer your own question?

Why is this in News/Activism and not back in General/Chat?

41 posted on 08/17/2006 8:53:10 PM PDT by delacoert
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To: RosieCotton

Wow. Yeah that choppy, patchwork thing is what drives me nuts, but it IS the way I write. Its only when I am in edit-mode that I drive myself nuts. I shouldn't do that.

I'm sure this won't make me a GREAT writer, but it might make me a better writer..

thnx everyone!


42 posted on 08/17/2006 8:53:39 PM PDT by Number57 ("Don't quote Dickens in my apartment!" Joe Young)
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To: JRios1968

You know, if a night is dark and stormy, why is it bad writing to say so? What are you supposed to say, it was photon-challenged and meteorologically active?


43 posted on 08/17/2006 8:53:48 PM PDT by Larry Lucido
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To: Number57
Change the date in your mind to 2009.

Now you are three years ahead of the point where you start thinking about it.

You still have time to forget the whole idea and move on with your life.
44 posted on 08/17/2006 8:54:00 PM PDT by msnimje (What part of-- "DEATH TO AMERICA" --do the Democrats not understand?)
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To: Number57

Have you included an earth-shattering kaboom? There's always an earth-shattering kaboom!


45 posted on 08/17/2006 8:54:11 PM PDT by FreedomCalls (It's the "Statue of Liberty," not the "Statue of Security.")
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To: delacoert

I thought I tagged it a vanity. Sorry.


46 posted on 08/17/2006 8:54:15 PM PDT by Number57 ("Don't quote Dickens in my apartment!" Joe Young)
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To: Number57

Oh, and one more thing that works for me: sometimes if I get stuck, I'll head for a different setting. I'll take a notebook to another room or a park or anywhere other than my usual spot.

But honestly, it sounds like perfectionism is your biggest problem. Get it down - smoothing over the lumpy parts and tidying everything up comes later.

We're gonna have to force you to do NaNoWriMo with us this fall to help you beat your internal editor senseless for awhile. ;-)


47 posted on 08/17/2006 8:54:32 PM PDT by RosieCotton
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To: txroadkill

LOL!


48 posted on 08/17/2006 8:55:28 PM PDT by RosieCotton
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To: txroadkill

LOL

That's where I'm stuck

;/


49 posted on 08/17/2006 8:55:35 PM PDT by Number57 ("Don't quote Dickens in my apartment!" Joe Young)
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To: Number57

And if your story line varies from your original outline...change the freaking outline. I've always felt that rigid outlines stiffle the creative novelist. I don't use them. If you really know your characters, they will tell you their story. Just write.


50 posted on 08/17/2006 8:55:36 PM PDT by Martins kid
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