Deep Fried Writer’s Brain

This title kind of sounds like something Liv Moore might eat on iZombie. (Happy iZombie night y’all!)

But really, this post is about how I am so hopelessly stuck on my novel right now! I’ve got 22,241 words and I’m afraid NONE of them work. I’ve rewritten my opening scene 5 times and am considering doing it again (even though I do actually really like it now), because I don’t know where to go from there. I dropped a HUGE bomb on my MC (and I LOVED writing it!), and I’m not sure how she can believably deal with that while also trying to do the other things I need her to do.

I need my MC to go to a different city, but I’m not sure how to get her there. Everything I’ve come up with just feels so tenuous, like it wouldn’t actually be enough to motivate her. She does already want to leave her current town, I just can’t figure out a way for her to get to that other city specifically.

And also, I have more bombs to drop on her, and I don’t want to do them too close together, but may kind of have to in order to move things along, and I don’t know how to do it without it feeling like a huge hot mess.

I just don’t feel like the pieces of my puzzle are fitting together, and it’s so frustrating! It’s still a puzzle I want to solve, but AHHHH!!! *pulls out hair* *runs around screaming* *lights things on fire*

This is where I wish I had planned things out more, but I wanted to do NaNo, and November happened, so I started to write. And I’m kind of regretting it now, even though I did feel like I had to start writing because I wasn’t sure I could plan any more. But now I regret it. *slaps past me*

My brain may also be a bit burnt out, so I’m giving myself a break. I can stop writing for a couple days without getting behind on word count and give my brain some time to regroup. And I’ll try to brainstorm all the crap that could happen in my novel instead of what I planned, and maybe something magical will happen.

I’m beginning to resent word count, because it makes me feel like I HAVE TO WRITE because I HAVE TO WIN!!!!! (I really, really like winning, you guys. LIKE A LOT.) And I am determined to win NaNo. I just hope that I can solve this problem so I can actually write GOOD words to do it, and not just WORDS.

It feels kind of bad that I’m hardly anywhere in my plot and I’m already wanting to stab everything I’ve written. I’ve basically just rewritten the same 4-5 scenes the past week. It’s BAD. I NEED TO MOVE ON!!!! (Seriously, is it a wonder that I can’t get my character to go to another city when I can’t even move on from the first 5 scenes?)

But there’s still a lot of awesome I want to get to. I just have to find the awesome in THIS part of the plot to get to the NEXT awesome.

So I’m giving myself the day off from writing, and maybe I’ll give myself tomorrow off too, if I nothing brilliant comes to me.

And then after that, I will get to work to try to fix this mess with fresh eyes! (I already have a mind-list of all the things I can try if it comes to it, because I am Super Serious about reconciling with my novel.)

Everyone else out there doing NaNo, how’s it going for you? Have you encountered any snags? If so, what did you do to overcome them?

Unsticking Myself

This week has not been going well on the NaNo planning front! The more I think about my story, the more plot holes I’m confronted with, and the more I want to abandon everything I’ve planned and start from scratch. It’s a major crisis!

Well, maybe it’s not a major crisis, even if I’m mostly unhappy with my current story plan. There’s still quite a bit about my story and my characters that I like and am excited about, but I’ve been having trouble getting into some of my characters’ heads. A lot of them just aren’t feeling real for me, and I’m having a hard time figuring out what the stakes are for them and what’s really motivating them.

This is especially true about my villain. My villain has a purpose and a goal, and I’ve 90% figured out what she’s trying to do. But I haven’t been able to grasp why she’s doing it now, and why she needs it to happen. What will happen if she doesn’t accomplish this nefarious goal of hers? What is her plan to foil my MC? This is but a small sampling of the questions I’ve been wracking my brain over for the past week. I feel like I can’t continue trying to plan out my story without knowing these things, and the clock is ticking; November is fast approaching!

I’ve read advice before that suggests writing a scene from a first-person POV to help understand a character better, but, for whatever reason, I didn’t think to do it until it just sort of happened last night by accident. I never write in first-person anyway, and it came out in my head in third-person, but I imagined a scene with my villain getting her evil on, and it was awesome.

I had never considered writing any scenes from the POV of my villain. I don’t know why I didn’t think of doing it sooner! Not only was it so much fun, but it inspired a whole other breakthrough, which is this: I am going to write from as many characters’ POVs as I want, as many as it takes to understand them and understand what they’re doing and what they want. Will these scenes end up in the final novel? Who knows. I only planned to use my MC as the POV character. But this is a first draft–an experiment, an exercise. I need to write it whichever way makes my characters real for me and gets me to the end.

I have to keep reminding myself that whatever I have planned is changeable. It will continue to change, and if you read my last entry, you know that I’ve changed it so much already. My notes from a week ago don’t even make sense anymore! I feel like I have a pretty good foundation for my first act, and many ideas for what happens after that, but nothing really concrete, nothing that really feels right.

It’s kind of scary, and kind of exciting, to not know where this story is going. The logical, planning side of me (the biggest–or at least the noisiest–side of me, to be honest) is freaking out, thinking that if I don’t have a super-well-thought-out, fail-proof plan, I won’t get those 50,000 words. But the flexible side of me (who doesn’t get out much) is trying to tell me to just go with it, and to have fun, because I need to stop taking things way too seriously. And the logical side knows the flexible side is probably right, but it’s so hard when I have this obsession with Always Being Prepared. I don’t know where that obsession comes from (anxiety issue maybe?), but it’s a pain my ass sometimes.

All this planning has helped me get a sense of where I want to go with the story, but it has not let me truly visualize the story or really get in touch with the characters, despite knowing their backstories. I’m still trying to determine my ideal writing process, but, at least in this case, it seems that planning can only take me so far, and I think that I can’t move forward any more until I’ve put some words down. So maybe my process needs to be Plan-Write-Plan-Write, instead of my current attempted method of Plan-Plan-Plan-Write-Write-Write.