Friday, July 29, 2011

My humps, my lovely lady humps. Check it out.

OK, so that headline is a BIT of a stretch. But as long as you're tapping along the beat I've had stuck in my head for an hour, we're starting off in the same place.

I've hit a writing hump, and I'm not sure what to do about it: When is it really time to let go of a chapter and move on?

I'm working on a new book, which is totally exciting seeing as how I've finished three and still find myself with more stories to tell. (Isn't that always a big fear – thinking that you might not have any more stories left in you? ... Well, it is for me.) Anyway, I spent weeks outlining the first few chapters, detailing the characters and the multiple plots, and drawing out my clues, romances and philosophies.

And, I'm happy to say that it's paid off. It's about an awesome female anthropologist, Alana Wendall, who can see ghosts, told from the 3rd perspectives of the her, the ghosts and the ghosts when they were human. It's roughly based on a story I was told when I was a child about how my great-great-grandmother came over to the US from Austria when she was a young woman. And, it's SO FUN in the creepy, mysterious way! This particular story, my fourth full-length and third adult-ish novel (because I can see my 114/15-year-old self reading them happily) is two chapters in and shaping up REALLY nicely.

...Except that I'm becoming my own worst enemy. Now that I know what's coming (based on all my studious pre-work work), I've found myself content for the past 2 WEEKS going over ... and over ... and over that second chapter until I pretty much can't tell what I love about it and what I hate about it anymore.

The struggles of being an editor trying to be a writer hasn't always been this difficult. In fact, I ROCK at my revisions. Normally, I write a long passage in a short burst, spend a few days fixing it, then move on and repeat the process. I have gotten stuck like this before – a damaged DVD stuck in pause while I relive the same set of scenes until my eyes blur up and I shut the document in frustration – but this time I'm really struggling to move on.

The beginning is so often the hardest part of the story to write. So many choices are open to us in those first few chapters. Should I introduce this character now, or later? Maybe a hint will do? Should I reveal the romantic inclinations or let it burst on the scene in a few chapters? How much it too much with teasing dialogue before the reader slams the book shut with an exasperated 'OK, sheesh! I get the point!'

There's so much story to tell at the beginning that we often dump it all out there as quickly as we can, figuring we'll sort it all out later on. No, the reader has to know the background. They need to know how much thought I've put into this. Right?

The only solace I'm taking is that every pass through makes this chapter stronger and more defined. But, is this foundation more important that moving forward? Perhaps the strength of the base will lead to stronger chapters later on?

The last issue: I'm not even done writing the chapter yet. GRRR.

I think it's time to forego Fergie and her toe-tapping beats, and set aside some quiet time for myself. Does anyone have any tips on how to move past my humps?

Does anyone have any tips for me?

PS-- Searching for 'my humps' on Bing for a good image = a bad idea.

7 comments:

  1. When I get stuck I MAKE myself move on to something else. I ban myself from it for a week or two, usually that distance helps me get perspective. Also if I go on, sometimes I answer my on questions by how the rest of the story unfolds. Good luck :)

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  2. I just gave you an award on my blog...I'd love it if you stopped by and checked it out :)

    http://livetowrite1.blogspot.com/2011/07/libster-award.html

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  3. I just stopped by from Angie's blog and thought I'd say hey! The thing that works best for me is moving on and making a note to go back. And like Angie said, sometimes it works itself out. Also with my latest WIP, I've cruised through the first draft, making myself not go back a bunch of times before I got the first draft out. It's helped a ton! Good luck!

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  4. AMBER!!!! I have to say how much I LOVED your first page at Krista's blog (I think you're the favorite, actually...watching for the 'Winners' post and totally rooting for you!!!!)

    I'm following your blog, (duh) but only if you'll keep me in mind for an ARC, you know, when Zellie hits print. <3

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  5. I definitely will – it's a fun story :) Thank you for the vote of confidence!

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  6. Amber, ha, ha, I've just given you an award as well! You're awfully popular. Congrats! I've given you an award at: http://laurabwriter.blogspot.com/2011/08/tooting-and-passing.html

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  7. I completely understand. I usually give myself a limit of only one or two edits before moving on, otherwise it's just beating it to death. Plus, you need to write the rest to really figure out how that second chapter should go :)

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Thank you in advance :)