Wednesday, December 05, 2007

SPINNING WHEELS

My husband saved my life today.

Okay, maybe not technically, but it sure feels like he drug me out of the pounding surf or right out from under the clutches of a raging blizzard.

I am at the last of my WIP and for several days, have been spinning my wheels as I tried to put the events of the last two chapters in their proper place. I knew something was wrong. I knew I had too many people in too many places with too few pages to wrap things up the way I wanted. The false conclusion wasn't leading to the real conclusion in the way in which I wanted.

Forgive me here for two diversions:
#1.) I still, STILL, do not know the right way to phrase things. I am not sure if the black moment comes before the something else or after it or what it means -- I am hereby announcing my independence from this stuff. I know what is right for my books even if I can't remember what to call it. So, please, I'm tired of feeling inferior. I know how to do it, and that is going to have to be enough.
#2.) For those of you still waving the banner of "No Synopsis, Never Surrender!" I laugh. Ha, ha, ha. To think a synopsis is going to ruin things for you as a writer (as in suck your creativity) is so silly I must pause just for a second to laugh again. Ha, ha, ha. I have the most beautiful synopsis you can ever want and it made sense enough to sell the book with nary a change and yet the ending in the synopsis makes no real sense in the execution. It just sounded good. It hit the right emotional buttons and perhaps, by now, my editor has faith in me. (She doesn't read this blog, does she???) Repeat after me: The synopsis is a selling tool. And most of us are going to need to know how to do one if we are going to sell books without writing them first. Some of you may be so brilliant you will not need to acquire this skill. Good for you. The rest of us have to get real.

Back to the husband saving me. There I was, drowning in words, too much plot, too many people, not enough pages. My head was too full. I couldn't even articulate to myself (and I am a dandy listener) what was wrong.

Then, I remembered an old trick I taught myself a couple of years ago. I remembered to look at the whole thing from the villain's POV. In my book, I am not in the villain's POV, I am in the hero's and heroine's. So, I tend to see things as they unfold and reveal themselves to those two characters. But my little villain has his own goals and motivations and within his character arc, he is going to act with logic.

Diversion #3.) Okay, we're all on the same page when it comes to logic, right? It matters. Even if you have a twisted plot involving murder and kidnapped babies and foundering sailboats and trips halfway around the world and castles and kings, even if that sounds goofy, the people within this story are going to act with logic. You can't make something exciting happen for the pure pleasure of something exciting happening unless it fits. This is a depressing but true fact.

So, now I knew how to approach my problem but I was missing a vital element that I have discussed here before but which I believe deserves revisiting: I needed a sounding board. So the dh got home from his trip and almost immediately allowed me to sit him down and tell him the set up and the chain of events and how everyone within my story got to the boiling point. He offered a suggestion. I shot it down like a hunter after a duck in a November sky. I told him something else. He made another observation. This one wasn't so bad. I recalled my earlier commitment to think of things through the villain's POV and it all kind of started to make sense.

So, no more spinning. I know where I am going.

You need someone who will listen to you, someone you respect, someone who respects you. Someone not afraid to offer suggestions, even if he does include corny dialogue (sorry, honey). Someone who understands who's boss of this pretend world or otherwise they will pout when you shoot them down. And lastly, you need to LISTEN to them because they very well might see something you missed or give what you have a turn or twist. Spinning wheels can sling a lot of dust into the air and sometimes it's hard to see through it.

13 comments:

Alice Sharpe said...

I'm responding first so I can hit the little "email follow-up" button. Back to work!

Paty Jager said...

Interesting blog, Alice! And I'll be hitting you up for synopsis help as soon as I get the first draft of this WIP done. I have two contemp cowboy stories I want to synops and a historical cowboy series I want to get three synops written so I can pitch at Nationals.

As for sounding boards- I have my two CP's, my daughter, my best friend, Danita, and Lori. Each one of them gives me a different perspective when I'm stuck. With each one's unique look at where I've written myself, I can usually figure out the escape route and it makes a better story.

I don't see how a writer can write a whole book without getting some outside perspective. Sure you are writing it in the POV of the main chracters, but hey, we all get caught up in our own little world and sometimes what they do isn't going to be sane to the rest of the world.

Thanks for a blog that made me think!

Alice Sharpe said...

You have a lot of support, Paty. And it's so true we get caught up in these worlds that at times seem more real that the world in which we live. Weird, huh?

I love the fact you have so many ideas and hope I can help the brainstorming process.

Elisabeth Naughton said...

Alice, your hubby is a definite keeper. And I bet he felt missed when he got home and you pounced on him to get the help you needed. ;)

I was the synopsis grumbler. *Eli, waves wildly* Though I've slid to the other side. I see the value in the synopsis, even if it hasn't directed me toward a sale yet. Knowing I can deviate from the synopsis if needed is sure a nice thing to remember, but, as I found with the wip, writing it all out in detail has definitely helped me figure out this twisted plot of mine. And I think my production has increased because of it. 40K words into the book and I'm still following the synopsis pretty closely, and lots of little twists and turns are popping up as I write which keeps me interested along the way. I used to be afraid knowing everything ahead of time would take the fun out if, but I've found its just the opposite.

Who woulda thunk it, huh?

I don't think that had anything to do with the "talk it out" direction you wanted the comments to go in, but it's what popped into my head. Glad to see you're not spinning wheels anymore. Go buy that guy of yours a drink.

Alice Sharpe said...

Eli, me have a direction I wanted comments to go? Not likely.

I am glad you have seen the value of a working synopsis. I have followed mine pretty closely and still am, it just needed tweaking when reality reared its ugly head. And I have to say, writing this book in two and a half months was possible because I'd thought it out as much as I had. Like you said, the twists and turns still come and with them, the need to be flexible.

Karen Duvall said...

I don't have much of a sounding board other than my critique group, and that's all through email. Not the same as chatting it up in person or on the phone. My husband will listen, but he's the type to pout if I choose not to use his ideas. Sigh.

Once I get the first draft done of my WIP, I'm going to consult with my kids, the two younger ones, anyway. The three of us share the same interest in stories and genres be they books, movies or tv. My son's a bit more on the violent side, but diversity is always a good thing. 8^) Maybe he can help me bump up the gore. Just kidding. There is no gore in this book. But there are a few complicated subplots that have to do with magic and/or the supernatural, and my kids love that stuff.

Synopsis? Uh... I write them, yes, but I do not enjoy it very much. I actually prefer writing the synopsis before writing the book; it's much easier to do that way. However, my end product barely resembles the predicted story. Still, it's a solid start to a better summary once the book is done.

Alice Sharpe said...

Karen, I too hate to write a synopsis after the book is finished. For the Harlequin art sheets, I have to write a one page synopsis of the book and it's grueling. However, the last book I wrote I finally got smart and did the art sheets right after the book was finished. LOL, I actually remembered what the heroine looked like and which scenes might make a nice cover (as though they ever take my suggestions) and it was much easier.

I love talking things over with my kids. My daughter is great and my son was invaluable with this WIP. I can't tell you how many times he walked me through what would happen for my prologue. The kid has patience.

Making up for lost time said...

I feel left out! I checked the little box to have messages sent to me and then they didn't. I though poor Alice everyone's so busy today they aren't responding to her blog. So I came to leave a message and see others have commented. Hmm... blogger must have something against my e-mail today.

I've been writing away, though I had to stop and do some research- And wouldn't you know it took a while to find the info.. but I'm back at it and hope to get close to 2000 words today like yesterday. I'm working hard to catch up with all the rest of you!

Karen Duvall said...

I'm supposed to get comments emailed to me, too, but it's not happening today. How odd. I just happened to drop in and saw new posts after mine. It's not fair to tease us with a new feature and then take it away! I think there's just a glitch in the system today.

I haven't written anything yet today, but hope to when I get home from the gym. Today I did some holiday shopping and hardly bought anything for my trouble. It's too overwhelming! I walk into a store and WHAM! Products everywhere. It's intimidating. Everyone will be getting a gift certificate from me this year.

Alice Sharpe said...

Making up for lost time -- is that you, Paty? Anyway, the responding button didn't work for me today, either. Don't know what's up to that but had similar concerns as you did. Thanks for dropping back to cheer me up only I wasn't alone after all!

LOL, one week with that respondo button and I am lost without it!

Paty Jager said...

Yes, it's me making up for lost time. I've managed 2,283 words today! And may get a little more time to work on it after our insurance agent leaves.

Yes! I hate when you get used to something and then it doesn't work! It's like going without internet for a couple of days! ACK! I'd be lost.

Karen, I can sympathize with you on the store overload! I'm so glad I started gathering gifts in October so I don't have to hassle with crowds and over decorated stores.

Danita Cahill said...

Alice,

So glad you're understanding hubby threw a block of wood under those spinning wheels and you are back on the road. Kiss him on top of the head for me.

And NEVER let yourself feel inferior for not knowing things like when a black moment comes. You are the Goddess of our group, girl. We bow down to your mighty insight and magic BM (ha ha, now that's funny right there)instincts....

Okay, could you tap me on the shoulder with your wand or your sword or whatever now, my legs are going to sleep from all this bowing...

Danita

Alice Sharpe said...

danita, you are a hoot.

no capital letters today as i grabbed a frying pan with myc right hand last night -- it was, unfortunately, straight out of a 375 degree oven. man, did that hurt...

ack.