April 26, 2010

When you're stuck

Hope everyone had an awesome weekend. I had a wonderful birthday fiesta, courtesy of Bear and complete with nacho bar (the easiest, tastiest, least expensive way to feed a lot of people that I've ever come across). We were even going to get a piƱata, but it was supposed to storm.

Bear got me a Bamboo Fun drawing/writing tablet for my birthday, and let me tell you - it is way more fun AND difficult than I could have imagined. It will definitely take some practice to get used to the pen. In the next few weeks I'll have to post a cartoon created with my Fun instead of hand-drawing and photographing like I normally do (since I don't have a scanner - technology FAIL, I know). Until then, I've included a few simple graphics I created with the Bamboo in this post (except for the one below, obviously).

One of the few things that works seamlessly with Vista.

In less awesome news, I am totally, utterly, absolutely stuck on one chapter.

Imagine shrieky horror movie music here (eeeek, eeeek, eeeek):

Chapter 13.

I've never been caught up on lucky and unlucky numbers, but boy, oh boy - this chapter could change my mind! The issue in the chapter doesn't have any major bearing on the rest of the book, so it hasn't stopped me from continuing to edit everything after it, but there is a palpable storm cloud hanging over this chapter.

I want it resolved. I want it fixed.

I have moved on, editing Chs. 14, 15, 16, etc., but every once in a while I go back and waste hours trying to fix it. Honestly, nothing in the chapter seems right. Not the writing. Not the plot. Not the characters. You know when you watch a video online and it hasn't buffered properly and it's all jerky? Yeah, that's this chapter. So I try to fix it, and then I get discouraged, and I say my book sucks, that I'll never be published, and I should never have started this.

I don't feel like that for long, of course, or I would have already quit. But still. Chapter 13? Total storm cloud on my otherwise pristine manuscript-horizon.

Do you have a problem chapter like my Ch. 13? If so, what do/did you do to resolve the problem?

PS - Rachel Bateman is giving away signed copies of AS YOU WISH, THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH, and THE SECRET YEAR. Be sure to enter her contest by 4/30!


Sarah Enni said...

I have totally been in this position before. What helped me was sitting back and writing out:
Who is in this chapter
What do they do in the chapter
What is the POINT of what happens in the chapter (what does the reader learn, what plot twist is developed, what moves the story forward)
Can this information be moved to another chapter (bits and pieces going to different chapters)? Is there an entirely DIFFERENT scene that would get this information across in a way that feels more natural/inspired?

This has helped me sit back and think about scenes from a whole new perspective, which usually gets the creative juices flowing again. Good luck!!
Love the graphics, too!

Heidi said...

My problem was the first couple chapters! I wrote them and rewrote them at least 7 times but they were never right. After that, I knew it would be so easy.

I can read something for you if you'd like help on chapter 13?

Kirsten said...

Sometimes when I have trouble with a chapter or scene, I ask myself if the chapter or scene is even necessary. Usually the answer is NO, so I delete it and write something else. I guess that sounds weird, but when I'm stuck I usually realize that I'm taking the WIP in the wrong direction.

Your new tablet sounds fun!!

Lydia Kang said...

I was just stuck on my chapter 15. It's so aggravating, isn't it?
I am thinking of getting that Bamboo tablet. I guess it's a good thing overall, huh?

Abby Stevens said...

Sarah and Kirsten - Thank you for the suggestions. In the back of my mind I think I knew I kinda needed to do that, but you know... sometimes laziness sets in. I think I'm gonna have to grin and bear it, be like Nike and JUST DO IT! :P

Heidi - I'm having problems with my 2nd chapter, too, but not nearly as bad. I went to a writer's conference and met with an editor and agent and both of them suggested combining ch. 2 & 3 and I'm trying to do that, too. If I keep struggling, I may just take you up on that! I'm so glad your writing is going so smoothly now!

Lydia - I really love it. It's very strange using the pen at first, but even after using it only a few times, it's beginning to feel intuitive.

Anonymous said...

It made me laugh that you commented so quickly to my bday post for Rachel. She always mentions how fast you comment on hers :)

I'm not sure if there was one specific thing I did that has helped me get past my problem part in my WIP. I think it was mostly a combo of being ready to tell the part the way I originally saw it, not stressing over my writing and just having fun, and my overall feelings for myself and my life right now. (I know that last part might seem random, but really, its an affector.)

And I repeat the Nike motto, often as well. :)

Rachel Bateman said...

Hey thanks for the shout-out!

I have definitely had this problem before, a few times. Sadly, I am never able to get past the problem in the same way I did before. :) Sometimes I end up absorbing the important parts of that chapter into the rest of the book because I realize that most of the chapter is unnecessary. Sometimes I shift the POV a little (if I am in 3rd and that is possible). And sometimes nothing seems to work until one day everything just clicks together.

Keep working–chapter 13 will shape up eventually!

I am glad you got to have a fun birthday extravaganza this weekend. Aren't birthdays fun?!

Lydia Kang said...

Ooh, I may have to buy it now!
Hey, I gave you an award over at my blog!

Abby Stevens said...


Yeah, I am going to try to shift the POV for some of the necessary info and absorb some of it into another chapter. Hopefully that will help. Otherwise, I guess I'll just have to let it sit there until it clicks, like you said.

Lydia - It really is great! Let me know if you get one and how it works out for you! And thank you for the award!

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