Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Who Ate My Story Mojo?

I lost my story. I swear it was here the last time I checked but now -- poof! Gone.

As if it wasn't bad enough that I can't find a name for my hero, but now it seems in trying to pare my story down to 75,000 words, I lost it. It packed its bag and made a midnight run. I woke up this morning, rolled over, looked at the dog and the first words out of my mouth were, "What the hell are these people doing in this story?" She yawned in my face, tuna breath and all, but had no answer beyond the wag of a tail and the desperate look that said, "I haven't eaten in seven hours, feed me!"

I rolled out of bed and fed the dog. Then stumbled back upstairs to wake myself up with a hot shower. It was sometime between rinsing out the conditioner and shaving my legs that I realized I needed to nail down these characters. It wasn't so much what was the story, or what were these people doing in it where the problem lay. It was--who were these people and why did I care?

So I did what I always do in times of confusion. I went to Deb Hale's website and checked out her Writing Tips. And voila - the article du jour was called - What's Your Problem? Well, I had a list but the article was more about your characters and their problems. Good enough. I read through it and realized, duh, of course. It all makes sense now.

I started scribbling notes as I read the article. Then I pulled out another article I had saved from a while back about the emotional arc of the character. Of course, I said, smacking myself in the head and being rewarded with a rather worried glance from Coop (if I'm unconscious, I can't feed her). I hadn't even charted what these people needed to learn. I had their backstory, I knew some of their issues, but then...nothing.

I think sometimes I get so excited about an idea that I just take off running. And then when I stop running and look back I realize I forgot to pack a lot of the important stuff.

So I trudged back to the beginning, and started filling the suitcase. Backstory, packed. Core belief and internal conflict, righto. Astrological work up, working on it. Recent events that solidified their core beliefs, got it. Issues that have kept them from having a lasting relationship, check. What they need to learn and change, double check.

There are still a few more things I need to figure out before I can start rebuilding the plot to work better. Right now it just feels like a bunch of events with no emotional attachment. Not so good considering this is a romance. But once I figure out the characters I'll be better equipped to change that.

And the hero? Yeah, he still needs a name. Austin...Rider...Pedro...Gomer...


julia said...

Do you normally feel this way starting off, as in writing historicals, or is the contemporary world having an impact?

Kelly said...

I did have this problem with Outlaw Bride in the beginning and then set it aside for a while before I came back to it. I just wasn't feeling the story or the characters. Well except for Connor. He's hard not to feel. Haha...and I don't mean that in a dirty way, get your mind out of the gutter.

I almost considered doing that here, but then thought I would try to figure out the problem first.

Molly O'Keefe said...

WOw -- talk about the post I needed to read right now. I've been procrastinating instead of working because I'm having the same trouble -- I keep plowing ahead and to use your metaphor - they're run out of things in thier suitcase. Hilarious!! Great post I'm going to check out Deborah Hale's website.

Good luck with the hero name -- I just changed mine yesterday thinking that would help me...ha!

Anonymous said...

I do the same thing Kelly. I get a particular scene in my head and I try to build a story around it. I'm so tuned into the scene I forget the other important character bits. It sounds like you're on track to getting things fixed up. :)

Melissa Marsh said...

Ah, the joys and sorrows of being a writer. ;)

Tess said...

Phew - glad you worked things out!! Yet more evidence, however, that we're long lost twins - Deb's site is usually MY first stop for writing advice too *g*.

Stacy Dawn said...

Glad you got things working for you again!