Monday, June 11, 2012

Difficult Writing

So my new novel has a lot of me in it. I know that most characters are reflections to some degree of the writer. But my main character is a figure skater, one that is a whole heck of a lot better than me, but she goes through a pretty major injury.

I don't know if having to sift through these memories again is making writing this novel feel like I'm pulling an recalcitrant elephant behind me. Or if it's the fact that I'm writing contemporary fiction that deals with real issues and I can't drive the plot forward anymore with magical actions or spectacular super human abilities. I'm pretty grounded in reality. It's hard for my main character and hence it's hard for me.

My WIP and I have this love hate relationship. I avoid it most of the time. But those moments when I sit down and actually start reading it, and thinking about it, then a scene will flow from my pen, but then when it comes time for the next difficult scene I find myself more apt to closing the notebook then plowing through.

It's a frustrating, cyclical, roller coaster process. Has anyone else had a relationship like this with one of their novels?


  1. Could be that you're still too close to write this novel. Sometimes, especially the more autobiographical, you need a certain amount of objectivity to really craft it properly. It's also hard switching genres and styles. If you must write it now, then perhaps you'd better do more outlining and plotting? If you know what has to come next before you start writing then it won't be so hard to get from point A to point C. If you're more pantser then it's going to be a struggle. You know what the similar events meant to you, but what do you want it to mean for your audience and your character? The answer to that question is at least a starting point for each new scene because you at least know where the endzone is.

    1. Hey there. Thank you so much for the advice. This novel is far from autobiographical but you are correct in that I'm channeling what certain events meant for me.
      I guess I'm having a tough time with if the audience will feel how devastating the injury is for this specific character. This character's life is figure skating. That's it.
      I think I definitely need to do a bit more outlining. I feel like one, I'm still getting to know the characters, and two this whole weaving in a bunch of back story is tough. I definitely need some sort of plan. Yes, an outline.
      Thanks for dropping by and for your suggestions.

    2. If you want the audience to feel the devastation of the injury then you need to show them how much the character's life is skating. I'm sure you know that already, but coming up with specific scenes to show how your character has to choose skating over everything else and how it affects her non-skating relationships may help you build momentum (even if those scenes never make it in the final version). Off the top of my head you'd have things like - the boy she has a crush on asks her to prom but she has to turn him down because she's training or competing or something; all her school friends are going on a weekend trip and she has to turn them down for the 100th time because she's this close to perfecting a jump or something, because she can't hang out with them as much she notices she isn't getting their inside jokes or they don't call her as much because she always says no or they are having life events that she isn't even aware of (she's losing friendships for skating); her grades are slipping or she puts off school for a semester to really go all in; show how her friends and family expect her to be a competitive skater as much as she does to the point of not even thinking of a Plan B, the all just assume it's going to happen; etc. You have to have the building blocks to show how making a choice for skating leads to losing something else. When the injury happens your audience will know that she's forsaken everything she needs at that moment. She'll be alone and directionless and have to rebuild her life and her very definition of who she thinks she is. So that's the setup. Which you probably have a lot of. Then you have to decide what the event/injury leads to, ultimately. Does she ultimately fight her way back into shape and succeed as a skater? Does she have to choose between being a mediocre skater now or giving it up altogether? Does it become a hobby and now she sees that she needs friends and love more than she needs skating? Whatever you come up with, I hope I get to read it :)

    3. Hey there. Thank you for these great suggestions. I've got a little bit of a setup for "Skating is LIFE" for the main character. Especially how it's affected her relationships with her family. And she pretty much has no friends because she is an athletic machine. But, I think the suggestions you've made above would be great to strengthen back story to show how and why she got to the point she is. When I get a decent draft, I'd love for you to read for it. You always give such excellent advice.