Yesterday I began working on my novel again. I didn’t realize how long it had been since I’d looked at it. I first had to dig around in my computer files to make sure I was working with the latest version of my document. Next, I had to find the notebook I was writing in so I could figure out where I left off. Then I had to read the last few chapters to remind myself what was going on when I last looked at it. After that, I needed to figure out where my story needs to go next to keep it moving forward. Then I spent the rest of the day alternating between staring at my computer screen and staring at my notebook (and staring out the window.)
Before I took off on my non-writing adventures a few weeks ago, I had jumped ahead in my story a bit and wrote a pivotal scene that I just had to get down on paper while it was fresh in my mind. Now I need to bridge the gap between the rest of my story and this latest scene. The problem is, there are many things that happen during this time, but I do not feel like any of them really move the story forward.
When I last left my protagonist (M.,) she had just married a man who would turn out to be a very bad person. This man will treat M. horribly for about six or seven years. He will leave her feeling so desperate, she will jump at the first opportunity she has to escape him. That opportunity presents itself in the pivotal scene that I am attempting to write up to.
I have a mental list of all of the horrible things that M’s husband will do to her to bring her to this desperate place in her life. I could sit down and write a scene for each of these horrible things. But my gut tells me this is not the way to move the story forward. I feel like what I will be doing is presenting a list to my reader. I need to show how M got to this desperate place, but detailing every single bad thing that her husband does to her doesn’t quite seem right.
I wonder if there is some way I could sum it all up in one very powerful scene, and then jump forward six or seven years to the next big moment. Can I build up the tension enough in one scene, or do I need to sit my behind in the chair and crank out my list of scenes? I think it’s time to do some freewriting!
What do you think? Please share your ideas in the comments below.
- Moving Your Story Forward (attackingthepage.com)
- Skipping or Avoidance? A New Discovery Into My Writing Process (melaniefishbane.wordpress.com)
- On Revision (christinajoneswriter.com)
- About The Writer (thecontentangel.com)
- Freewriting Fridays 6/18 (verynovel.wordpress.com)
- Writing Exercises II (writershenanigans.wordpress.com)
3 thoughts on “I am back to the writing board and struggling to move my story forward”
Freewriting always helps. Sometimes, I write a journal entry in character or perhaps conduct a character interview. Let’s say you and M went out for coffee. You could talk about her day. Better yet, maybe it’s a support group so M can be more candid.
While these exercises might not make it into the final book it gives more foundation when you show M’s motivation for her actions/inactions.
In terms of a powerful scene, you might have her looking at an object, maybe it’s a gift from the husband. It was once a symbol of all the possibilities, of the amazing life they’d have together. The future was bright when she first held the object. Now, she sees it in a different light. For example, let’s say it’s an antique figurine. At first, it’s an extravagant gift. You can make the depiction whatever suits your story. Now, years later, she sees beyond the veil–the illusion when love made her blind–and all she sees are the worn edges, the cracks beneath the varnish. You get the idea. Now she sees it for what it really is. Despite what others perceive as something to be admired and treasured, she knows its fragility. The scene could be her epiphany but hey, a nice touch could be that he’s in the room, they have a major confrontation and she turns and smashes it against the wall, narrowly missing his head. If it’s not so much an action-filled story, perhaps she can just throw it on the floor to emphasize that it’s meaningless to him and with it breaking, so are the binds she once felt obligated to keep sacred. If it’s not the right time for a confrontation, whatever she decides to do with the figurine represents the next course of action on her journey of self-discovery: leave him, stay and fight for the marriage, stay and fight him before she leaves, etc. Whoa… stormed the brain too much there. I hope I made sense. 🙂
Haha, thanks! You seem like the kind of person I would love to be in a critique group with. Full of ideas!
Count me in. I’m always on the lookout for good crit partners/beta readers. It makes the writing journey more enjoyable when there are like minded people along for the ride.