Thursday, September 15, 2011

Structure, Smucture

Tonight I am talking about story structure at my writer's group. The thought that I am giving anyone instruction on writing is a wee bit frightening.

But it is also more than a wee bit sobering. I have been reminded by the preparation for my lesson that the real reason I haven't sent my novel out isn't the writing, it's the plot. I do have a great story. The plot, not so much. It really needs to be pulled apart and put back together again in a very different shape. There are multiple bad spots.

Like I'm putting the characters somewhere, or preventing them from going there, just for my convenience. But it feels fake and I know it is and they know it is and we're all looking at each other going, "This isn't going to work."

They're stomping for their trailers. "Let us know when you've got it worked out."

Truth be told, I'm tired of working on it, but this is the only project I've had for so long, I really don't know what to do with myself. I had another idea thrown out to me that I love, a collaboration, but that person is too busy right now to get started. So I'm going to have to come up with something all by my lonesome.

Sigh. I'm not an idea person. I don't walk around looking at the world as a thousand potential stories. But if you give me a story, I can come up with a thousand potential angles.

How do you come up with stories? And what do you do when you feel burned out on one?

Or does that never happen?


  1. I'm not big on structure, Christine but I know it's essential. It just can't be forced into shape. Good luck with your talk.

  2. No, it can't be forced but I do think that the story threads Betsy and I have been working on have given me enough material to work with. I just have to have the motivation to do it. *sigh*

    If only someone would pay me to write full-time, instead of wasting my best hours at my day job.

    Oh, is that my boss walking by? Back to work! LOL!

  3. You definitely sound like you need to start a new project. When you can't stand the sight of your manuscript you know it's time.

    Let your first one sit for a while and do exactly what you said you don't do...listen and observe the world for a week, a month, however long you need. Carry a notepad and jot down anything you find interesting or strange or scary or funny. Eavesdrop on people wherever you are. Notice the big and the little things that come across your path. Sounds, tastes, the feel of something in your hands. Everything.

    Life will provide your next project. It always does. You don't have to know what you're looking/listening for, you just have to start looking and listening (isn't that the same line from the commercials? : )

  4. You may be right, KM. Of course, as soon as I put that post up I thought of all these ideas of ways to fix my novel. #myperversebrain

  5. I have one book that I'm going to tear apart later this fall. Since working on my current WIP, I've learned so much about story structure, I can see partly what I did wrong with the other book. And even though it did land an offer of representation (which I turned down), I know it can be 100% better. BUT I needed the long break from it and the perspective of another book to help me see that. :D

  6. That is ridiculous. You are too an idea person.


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