Christian Writing I'm officially stuck

Jun 7, 2022
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I finally got past the inciting incident and my book has fled my head. I don't know how else to describe it... I just see nothing at all. No spark in the character dynamics anymore, no depth in the theme, no allure in the plot... I just no longer know what I was ever writing about.

And you know what else? This is the second time this has happened with this book. I had written up to the first big plot point once before, lost the thread, and set it down for a while. Coming back, I decided to rewrite from the beginning, and it was going great until this very same point.

Is this nerves? Am I just psyched out about leaving the comfortable intro and getting into the actual book?
Is this a fundamental flaw in my idea?
What is happening?
 

Zee

Mar 1, 2019
3,643
1,229
So, if I understand you correctly, you’ve never gotten past writing the first couple chapters of your story. Is that because you actually cannot think of what should happen next, or because, though you do have an outline, it fails to inspire?

If it’s the former, I’d suggest setting it aside for a while, working on something else that you’re more interested in, and maybe come back to it when ideas begin to flow again. Maybe your idea just needs more time to percolate.

However, if it’s the latter case, I would recommend you keep writing, even if feels a bit like pulling teeth…inspiration rarely comes when you’re just sitting around, but when you’re writing, even if you don’t love the result, good things often start to happen. Keep writing to your outline, to give yourself structure and measurable goals, but don’t be afraid to let it go if/when inspiration strikes!
 
Jun 7, 2022
13
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I don’t have everything outlined, but I do have an outline to two or three chapters past where I’m getting stuck, and a general idea of the direction toward the middle and end after that.

It’s been a long time since I’ve really written. This is my most serious novel attempt since high school. I HOPE I’m just out of practice…
 

Johne

Senior Member
Staff member
Sep 27, 2005
3,380
1,248
I finally got past the inciting incident and my book has fled my head. I don't know how else to describe it... I just see nothing at all. No spark in the character dynamics anymore, no depth in the theme, no allure in the plot... I just no longer know what I was ever writing about.
This is not uncommon. What genre are you writing in? That will give you a huge leg up on what to include next.
 
May 8, 2022
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My suggestion is to skip around. I never write a novel from beginning to end. Most times I start on the second chapter because it’s so hard to get the right hook for the first.

As an example, right now I am at 60000 words of an 85000 word novel. Both the first and last chapters are written but I got a few chapters interspersed that have not.

Why?

I was not inspired to write them so I skipped over them
 
May 8, 2022
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Here is another example: you need not skip entire chapters

In my current working novel, I had a chapter that starts with the main character lamenting over his dead dog.

This morning I was chipper and did not feel like being glum, so I put a note in saying “dead dog here” then write some 2500 words of action because I was inspired for that.

I got 2500 words written and that is better than just looking at my laptop because I did not feel glum. I’ll fill in about the dog later

I did not skip an entire chapter, but by skipping uninspired parts, I keep at writing the novel

It’s okay to write out of chronological order
 
Jan 7, 2020
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Another idea is to use the section you are stuck in as a sort of free write exercise or creative thinking prompt. Brainstorm and try to think as many different manners in which you could proceed as possible, then pick a few and write a short scene and see how you like them, then you can either pick from them or perhaps those example prompts could light the inspiration you're looking for. You could even post it as a group activity to see if others have ideas that could then inspire you.

Many times I ask other people to help me brainstorm. Sometimes they have ideas that I directly use in my books, but more often than not, their creativity inspires my creativity and helps me break through the block.

Another idea for an exercise that might help is character development schemes. On Story Ember, they have this thing called a Character Castle, where people write in their characters and interact with other people's characters, which helps flesh out their personalities. So, for instance, if your character was placed on a different world to interact with different types of people and situations, how would your character react? Since your character has one set personality, this can help you learn more about your character and help bring them to life.
 
May 28, 2019
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Try focusing on where in the story things change - the middle point. If you imagine your story as a triangle with bottom left corner (the beg) rising to the middle point (where it all changes) and descending to the righthand side bottom corner (the end)

Once you know these 3 plot points, you can then build the rest of the story.

The hard part is knowing the mid point - which is what I am struggling with at the moment :D
 
Apr 5, 2019
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And you know what else? This is the second time this has happened with this book. I had written up to the first big plot point once before, lost the thread, and set it down for a while. Coming back, I decided to rewrite from the beginning, and it was going great until this very same point.

Is this nerves? Am I just psyched out about leaving the comfortable intro and getting into the actual book?
Is this a fundamental flaw in my idea?
What is happening?

Your first problem was rewriting an unfinished book from the beginning.

In both THE REVENANT AND THE TOMB and the current book I'm developing, I felt I was dragging those stories over the finish line at times. I had ideas, but I didn't want to write them. Part of it is nerves. Part of it is because you've had this story swimming around in your brain for so long, it's just no longer interesting to you any more.

My first piece of advice: STOP REWRITING THE BOOK WHEN YOU HAVEN'T FINISHED THE FIRST DRAFT.

My second piece of advice is to continue on writing each scene until you reach the end you envisioned.

My third piece of advice is to then go back and re-write the FINISHED manuscript to slide in the new, more interesting ideas you developed along the way. And, yeah, new ideas will come to you while you write. Not always, but most of the time they will.

In my next book (THE WIZARD ODO), the climax of the story I envisioned initially was not what I finally wrote. In fact, the ending I finally wrote was way superior to my initial concept. And I know it's better. It comes out of the blue, makes sense for all of the characters involved while maintaining the same dramatic flavor. I didn't hit upon this idea until I was roughly three-quarters through the book.

If you are a major pantser like me, you need to develop the discipline to bulldoze through misgivings because what you've written isn't - in your head - stellar. Your first draft will never be stellar. Or, as Hemmingway put it: your rough draft will be...uh..."poo poo."

It's the revisions where the magic takes place.
 
May 8, 2022
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I agree with some points: rewriting is a waste of time

My approach at skipping areas of a novel until I am more inspired is part of that. With 4 daughters, a girlfriend, farm to manage and a full-time off farm job at a powerhouse: I don’t have nearly enough time to write as is, much less rewrite.

I won’t slog through a section just to get it down on paper though because for me that is a waste of time unto itself. I am not into instant gratification so I am able to put off parts of my stories until I am ready to write them. When I do, they are better written

But this skipping applies to entire novels. I typically have 3 going at any one time because if I wane in interest on one, and think of another to write, why not write where I am inspired too? If it’s a good enough novel then I will return to it to finish it up for sure.

But for me this is just a hobby so I write what I want to write and when: I am not going to be snared by some book forcing me to do something I would rather not do. A hobby is something I am suppose to enjoy doing
 
Jun 7, 2022
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I appreciate all the feedback, I have been able to get a few more paragraphs out since this, and I think some momentum may be starting up again. So thanks for saying "just write!" Lol

But in the interest of some fun conversation, I do want to defend my decision to rewrite, though! I know the meta and the usual writing advice is just to keep going and not look back, but the one thing I know for sure about my writing process is that that doesn't work for me.

You see, I've tried that method three times, finishing NaNoWriMo successfully, and each time, the result was so utterly useless that it couldn't even, in my assessment, really count as a draft. It was just words - not a story. There would be no editing, but only start-from-scratch rewriting, to make something workable, and that was so overwhelming. If I was going to write the book a second time with more thought, I'd honestly rather just spend that thought on how I write the book the first time. Because I honestly didn't think I got anything out of that blind writing that would make a second attempt any easier.

In recent years, I've been hearing from a smattering of other authors who think likewise, and who say they have had greater success in seeing things through to completion when they make sure they're somewhat satisfied with what they have as they go. This is absolutely me. If I can get the stuff I've done so far to be not-total-crap, that motivates me to stick with it, because I have some potential to lean on.

So it's funny because basically all I'm doing is that same "total rewrite" I so dreaded in all my failed stories, BUT piece by piece, which is a) more manageable and b) keeps me motivated to continue because I like the stuff I already have.

Even this wall I hit qualifies, because although I temporarily lost all love for what was next, I did like the new start that I already had much more than the first one. And I suppose time will tell if I can in fact ride that tide all the way to the end of the book... but I at least know of a few other writers who have found that was actually the trick for them.
 

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