So, I hit the 40,000 word mark on my draft and then everything froze up. It’s taken me a few days to realise that I had fallen into a great big hole.
This draft is not about tightening words or checking the emotional arcs of the characters. It’s what I call a vomit draft. I smash out all the scenes down and in order, so I can read it over and see what’s missing and what’s not working.
No matter how much planning I put into the vomit draft I usually end up screeching to a halt in the process. This time just happened to be at 40 000 words when I thought I was totally killing it.
I had hit the big action part towards the end of the middle, which I have always been very excited to get to but I couldn’t write it.
I did my usual routine – sook, eat chocolate, read blogs, facebook, glare at manuscript on laptop – until the reason came to me. I didn’t know what to write because there were still a few questions that I hadn’t answered.
They were all questions on the character’s motivation and their expectation on what would happen. These aren’t secret writer questions either, they are insanely obvious to any reader, writer, film junkie. Though for some reason, I thought I could get away with not answering these questions until the second draft. Foolish much? Yes, Yes I am.
When I’m stuck in my writing, it’s usually because I don’t know what to write. First step – acknowledge you have a problem, right?
Second step is figuring out what to do and I think that’s where people give up and start a new project. Instead of giving up, I ask myself questions to try and break through this stage.
What does my character want?
Do my characters in this scene have conflicting objectives?
What does my character think is going to happen?
I’m not sure if it’s these questions that help everyone out but they seem to be the ones that get my writing moving again.
And just on a finishing note, how cool is the news of that archaeological dig that may contain the tomb of Anthony and Cleopatra? I think it’s just as cool that there’s an Egyptologist called Kathleen on site…