Sorry, I’m a human with low constitution.
I can’t say no to a bag of Doritos. I still smoke a pack a day.
Sometimes, a story idea goes cold. In my defense, I never said that my tips are a fool-proof system to guarantee publishing. BUT, before I spend the afternoon flogging myself I’d just like to say that I’M STILL WRITING. Using my previously mentioned 3 month rule, I retired one project and started another. However, one of my starting projects is still moving along near the 100 page mark (which is a BIG deal for me).
This ‘new’ story is actually an idea I’ve played around with on and off for years. This is good because I figure there must be some importance to a story idea that comes floating back every six months or so.
However, taking a new look at old material can be bad. Well, for one thing – it’s OLD material and there was a reason it was shelved in the first place. BUT, if we take a metaphysical look at the universe, as I tend to do, we are not the same person we were six months ago. WOAH – look out Alan Watts. I have changed. My skills have changed. My life experiences have changed.
BUT IT’S STILL OLD MATERIAL, right?
Well, here’s what I did when approaching this old tale from a new point of view. I kept some of the characters, setting, and timeline and decided to start filling in the gaping holes with some new philosophies I’ve picked up during my recent esoteric studies. Not quite the nuclear option, but pretty close.
A few days ago I was working on this idea – more like banging my head against the computer screen out of frustration. I was stuck in an old series of events. Without giving much away – I was literally writing through my character’s first day – 24 hours of important events that set up the rest of the story.
I was bored by lunchtime.
The prose was forced and it read like so. Here I was, yawning my way through the opening. Here’s a DUH tip: If YOU’RE bored with your story and YOU know all the awesome stuff that’s going to happen down the road- just how do you think your reader will feel when they’re bogged down with a Nicholson Baker-like description of what your character eats for breakfast? They won’t get very far. Your book will be shelved and you’ll be forever known as the writer, Mr. Boredom McBoringFace.
So, I did something new for me. I completely broke with the story line. I opened a brand new document and began telling a separate story involving another character in the main storyline. I was free! I didn’t have to fit it in to my main character’s opening day. Hell, it’s written like its own separate story. For days, I had been itching to tell this narrative that happens further down the line and I went ahead and did it AND it felt pretty damn amazing!
I’m pretty much a pantser when it comes to writing my stuff. If I do outline it’s a rough one at best (mostly a family tree with some major plot points I want to tell). Yet, I usually still write the story out in linear fashion. Now, I believe that this is what’s been slowing down my writing output. I get stuck. I get frustrated. I pick up lonely plot bunnies at the local bar.
Currently, I have three word documents open that have three different characters all in separate narratives. They’re all in the same story, they’re just taking different paths to get there. Perhaps this new method in dealing with old material will play out successful. Then again, maybe it will fail miserably. At least then I’ll have a great number of pages towards something new.
So, if you’re stuck with an old story you think is important enough to keep working on – try flipping the order – play around with the perspective. It’s your universe, you can create it however you want. There’s no rule that says you can’t write a story from the ass-end up. You just have to write it.
Happy writing all!