Laggin’ and Draggin’

So I’ve been doing the #FridayFlash exercises for a few weeks now and I have to say, they’re good for keeping the ol’ writer muscles movin’ and flexin’. But over the last few weeks, I really haven’t done much in terms of getting them up and ready to go. A few weeks ago, I was writing so much I had a backlog of about three weeks worth of stories ready to go.

Now, though, I’m down to almost nothing. I have one left to post (which probably went up on my fiction blog today), and that’s it. I have to get hopping and write a few more to have them ready to lock-‘n-load.

I’ve been reading about this online from several editors and agents too. There seems to be a consensus about what to do when a writer is finished with one story and it’s in the wind, either as a represented work (in the hands of his/her agent, being pimped to editors at publishing houses) or on a query quest seeking representation. Once that baby’s flown the nest, it’s time to start on the next big thing until you’re ready to do something with that piece again…which will hopefully be never. (If it doesn’t fly in the world of publishing houses, you might get feedback from your editor or agent about why; if it doesn’t have an agent yet, who knows what you’ll get.) But for the most part, when the final tweaks are in, the thing lives or dies.

So while you’re waiting to find out you should be writing, I hear. Write and write and write some more. Get on to your next project and chop away. So, I’ve been doing precisely that. I’ve been working on character outlines for my next project, trying to figure out who they are and what makes them do what they do, and how to establish the stakes for them in the story. I have the basic synopsis of what happens, but don’t really have the four part story structure layout I want yet. I have a little more foundational work to do, but basically, I’m not doing much of anything. At all. And that means I’m laggin’ and draggin’, like the title says, in a lot of areas.

So I’m down a few flash pieces and not up on my major project, and my former major project is on life support (and hasn’t been looked at in a while). What have I been doing?

I don’t know. Honest, I have no idea. I’m doing the things I think I’m supposed to be doing, but the Oh My Gosh I have to WRITE WRITE WRITE this story urge hasn’t set in. Yet. (And maybe never will, but that’s for another day.)

So, writers, how do you plan and attack breaking the inertia to getting the next project started? How do you layout the way you go about the next thing you’re writing? Do you just sit down and let the characters “direct” you (ARRGH I hate when writers gimme that load of crap), or do you have a general idea of what you want to happen in the story and let the characters develop as they will? Lots of my writer buds take a pants seat approach – does this make it easier to get started somehow?

Let me know before you run off for your weekend stuff. I have a book I’d like to write and can’t remember how to start. To tell the truth, I don’t know if I ever knew.

Wish Falcon a happy birthday Sunday. She’s old and it would mean a lot for you to remember, even if she can’t anymore.


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11 thoughts on “Laggin’ and Draggin’

  1. Oh, man! Have you been punched for that comment yet? LMAO!

    Pff. She’s too old, bones too fragile, to hit anyone.

    Just sit down and start writing how YOU want to. For me, books usually start with a scene (not necessarily the eventual opening) that has fully developed in my head first. It’s usually a scene between two people, which gives me a good jumping off place for the characters.

    How interesting! I have a whole scenario for the book, have it mostly planned out, but don’t have any of it written and didn’t know the first thing about the characters.

    But if you sit down and start, I bet your own method will make itself known.

    Well, no time like the present, eh? 🙂 I thought I should have some semblance of characters down before I started writing, but you and Fal both say just start pecking. Might be something to it. 🙂

  2. Shit, if I was as old as Falcon, I’d be happy if everybody forgot my birthday.

    If you’re lucky enough to live as long as Falcon, it’s all about what you remember, not what you forgot. 😉

  3. Re: the “characters directing” comment.

    From “Techniques of the Selling Writer”:
    Q: Don’t some writers claim that their characters come alive and themselves control a story’s direction despite the writer’s contrary wishes?

    A: They say so.

    What such a writer means, however, if he only realized it, is that he becomes so fascinated with the personality he’s created that he prefers to write about that personality instead of the story he originally had in mind.

    This can be good, or it can be disastrous.

    Interesting quote, Bryce. I wish I had his patience for people who make that claim. I really need a copy of that book someday. Guess I’ll add it to my wish list on Amazon. 🙂 Hope you and the family are doing great!

  4. I’m that way with the blog. I have days where there aren’t enough hours to write, then I have days where I can’t find any motivation. The immediate feedback keeps me going I think.

    Commenters letting you know they’re reading and interested help a bunch, don’t they? I can relate. Lately my commenters have dropped dramatically, so it’s even hard ’round here, but you faithful ones are too awesome to let go. 😉

  5. These days I can barely find it in myself to keep my blog updated. That’s kind of sad, because I’m the only character in it, and I don’t even have to use my imagination to come up with the story. It’s a case of burnout, and I hope my holiday week after next will cure it. I can’t even imagine sitting down and coming up with a gripping work of fiction.

    Gosh, I can’t imagine coming up with a gripping piece of fiction either. 😉 Hope you get the rest and recovery you need, hon, but remember: No one HAS to blog. Need to stop for a while? Well, do what’s best for you. 🙂

  6. I don’t think every writer who makes the “characters take control” comment are full of crap. That isn’t my experience, but if they believe that, who am I to question the way someone else gets the words on the page? And I think (though could be wrong and some writers are full of crap no matter how they get the writing done because writers are human beings and most human beings are filled with nonsense anyway), so as I was saying, I think what happens to the writers who say that is that they get lost in what they are doing. They can forget the world going on around them and just “hear’ the story. Have you heard of the theory of flow?

    Nope, can’t say I have; I’m not trying to judge anyone OR be an ass, though. I do think writers say that because they’re expected to. Let’s face it, characters in our stories are IMAGINARY, PERIOD. They cannot, DO NOT, come alive and start typing. That IS a load of crap, and if I’m being too literal with the expression, then I feel they’re being too liberal with the euphemism. But — that’s me, and I’m a jerk. Like you, however they get the words on the page works for them, and in the end, nothing else matters. 🙂

    One example of flow is the composer who said that when he is really in his composing he feels his hand is moving of its own accord. Think of the creative experience a bit like a religious one or a trance like state. Most of us can’t get into such a state because our brains jabber on to much.

    That’s a simplified version of the theory, but I hope it gets the idea across.

    It does, and I thank you for offering the clarity. I still don’t buy into it, but it might help me if I think of it that way. Maybe. 🙂

    As for me, I just hassle myself until I get my butt in the chair. It helps to make promises to another person. That’s why I do those crazy challenges. I hate to break promises, so I keep working.

    Good luck!

    You know, that’s a really good idea — making promises to another person. That might just do it, for the specific reason you’ve listed — I hate making promises I can’t keep. Thanks, Marta — and thanks for coming back over and over. I’m so glad you do.

    • You know, I don’t think they’re spouting crap either. I have had times when a character seems to take off in a direction my forebrain didn’t expect. When I’m writing, there is a part of my consciousness which is acting as the character. It’s feeling the feelings, thinking the thoughts, and saying the words that my character does. That part identifies so strongly with the character, and is so separate from the “writer” writing, that it does sometimes feel like a separate entity, like a medium channeling a spirit. It doesn’t often happen that dramatically, in fact only a couple of times in my life, but I always have that strong identification with the character.

      That might be the most interesting description of it I’ve ever heard; the subconscious attaching itself to the character and sort of acting. Weird, but clever! 🙂

      So that quote above is a bit pompous and arrogant, in that he claims every person’s brain works like his. That quality may be the main difference between a plotter and a pantser.

      Now there’s a thought!

  7. Well if it makes you feel better now that I have committed myself to 3 prose updates of at least 1,000 words a week I always have one project lagging behind. Right now it is the serial novel. I hope to get caught up on it soon…

    So long as the really important stuff doesn’t fall through the cracks, Al — like #fridayflash and family matters — you’re okay in my book. Oh, and reading my work. That’s gotta come up high somewhere too, okay? 😉

  8. Alas, I too don’t think it’s necessarily a load of crap when writers say their characters have taken over. It may be a load of crap for a particular writer; after all, after hearing it repeated so often it’s easy to think it should be the case, even if it’s not — at least, saying so might appear to make you a “writer.” (Just like talking about how hard it is to write, how tortured one’s soul is and all that. Like you’re the Van Gogh of the written word.)

    It only has to happen once to make you a believer, though. (And there’s certainly no requirement to talk about it afterwards!) Sometimes I think, or worry, that you’re way too hard on yourself to trust yourself as a writer, and that this may keep you from ever having the experience. Think of it this way: if you’re constantly telling your characters, NO, damn it — I’m the boss here, and you will do THIS, not THAT… well, then, doesn’t that imply that they’ve sorta got wills of their own, even if you’re not letting them get it on paper?

    I’d agree with everything you said, JES, but for one tiny thing. The characters aren’t real to TAKE control. If they do, isn’t that indication of a broken mental process somewhere, akin to MPD? (Which is extremely rare.) Seems that way to me, but…that’s me. 😉 My characters are just that — characters. They’ve never gotten to a point where I didn’t know with my brain where they were going, what they were doing, etc. So I guess until I have the experience, it’s just not something I can comprehend, even if I manage to apprehend it. 😀

    [Happy birthday, Falc!]

    • I doubt the people who say that their characters take over mean it literally, as in a split personality. I figure they mean the same thing I mean, and that is they’ve given the part of their brain which identifies the character free reign to surprise them.

      I understood what you meant. Yours was the first explanation I’d seen that I did understand, actually. I thought you were pretty clear about it. 🙂 And you’re probably hitting the master stroke here — I’m being WAAAAAY too literal. They don’t ever drop the analogy, though (the ones I’m thinking of specifically), even when confronted on it. So maybe some are more literal than others? I dunno. I’m probably making things too concrete though.

      And of course, I could be wrong about that. Maybe they all belong in mental hospitals. 😉

      LOL! I for one do! 😉

      I think John has hit it on the head when he says it might be an affectation for some, born of the truth for some others.

      Marta’s got great points on this one too. On today’s post, actually.

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