Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Dead Zones

It's been a very busy week. Emergency doctor appointments and ultrasounds and vaccinations and the usual demands of catering to two very high energy little boys, both of whom are still in diapers. Not to mention the cooking and the cleaning that comes with being a little (nesting!) house wife.

Combined with the above distractions I have reached a very slow point in my WIP. It's an unfortunate phenomenon that happens to me. I have vision for where I want to go, it all went good up to this point, but it seems like at about 20K words I can get a little lost for what needs to happen NOW. I can't wait for the scene that I've envisioned for three scenes from now, but I just don't know how to connect the dots and get there! In short, I have fallen into a dead zone.

So I've been slowwwwwly creeping that word count up. What do I write when I don't know what to write? Oh, it varies. But I do try to write something. One of my dear crit group friends said 'you can't edit a blank page' and she's very right. I could sit there and stare at the screen, waiting for inspiration, or I could just blaze past this point by writing what seems best. I can always go fix it later (as you remember from my earlier posts, I have no issue at this point with completely erasing mass chunks of MS if need be) and sometimes some of the best little moments come about between my h and H when I'm just 'writing blind'.

Now, there's a method to my madness (oh how often I claim that!) I try to think 'what does their relationship need?' Does it need more conflict? More sexual tension? Or do they need a moment of calm, maybe even some camaraderie. Above all else, I want my reader to know that the h and H are meant to be with each other, and only each other. So in order to answer the question 'why her/him?' I do try to give them a well rounded relationship.

So in these moments, that aren't so driven by events and plot, my characters can have their moments together. Granted, sometimes they end up slow and rambling, but again, I can cut it later. But it also gives some really good character building, relationship building opportunities.

Even though the 'slow times' still frustrate me, I'm past the point of fighting against them. I just try to make them work for me, rather than against me.

So, what do you do when you reach slow points? (or do you 'real' plotters never have those?)



  1. Transitions suck.

    I'm a plotter, more or less (thorough synopsis and copious notes, but not all the little cards/stickies on a board), and after 7 books, I still hit that same hole. Mine's a little further in, maybe 40G, but it happens. The best thing I've found is a little brainstorming with someone who knows the story (i.e., a critique partner). Second best is brainstorming with someone who doesn't know it, but who's willing to listen to you explain it. And third (or sometimes a prelim exercise to the first two), is a "List of Twenty" -- 20 ideas for what could happen next.

    Ultimately, though, it's a matter of sitting down and writing. Writing *anything.* Eventually, it will come, and at least that way, you have something to edit.

  2. Those are great suggestions! I love the 'list of twenty'.

    My crit group considers me a plotter, since a couple of them are die-hard extreme pansters and I usually have a good idea of key points in my story, but I'm a very informal plotter, usually with no written notes at all.

    I think I hit another dead zone around 35-40K myself. Usually right before I can get to the black moment.

    I've been muddling through, just writing and seeing what comes out. I should get out of it soon.

    Glad to know I'm not the only one suffering from this affliction!!

  3. Oh My God,

    Maisey, am I right to assume that the adorable sleeping cherub in the picture is Alani?????? If that is your daughter then can I just ask one question: Has Haven installed bars on her bedroom window yet?? I can make out your name on the 'assumed' scan photo, what can I say? She's so beautiful, so perfectly perfect. I gave up being broody after Morgan was born but that baby sure makes me feel something strange.

    Ooops, I forgot to read your post after seeing the piccie. Back in a moment.

  4. Yep, Aideen, it's Alani!! And yes, bars shall be installed. She's such a beautiful baby! And how could she not make you feel the need to procreate.

    So good to hear from you! Hope you're back soon!


  5. Hi, Maisey--Pamela from Heidi's blog! Fabulous word count--you're going to do great with ITryWriMo! For stuck points, I forge ahead to the next point I know, and then go back and look at the gaping hole when I've finished the first draft. I can evaluate what needs to be there, sometimes I was right to skip it because nothing was really needed. I am 65% panster, so take that tip with a large grain of salt! (And a margarita if necessary...)

  6. HAHA! Good to see you here, Pam.

    Yeah, I'm some weird percentage panster, but I have to write things chronologically so I have an issue with skipping things. I'm this weird organized but only to my own twisted mind person.

    I'll have to go check your blog out!

  7. Used to be total pantser and in the slow times, I'd go for a long walk trying to think about where to go from there.
    But now, having a synopsis that was planned to the nth degree, I know exactly where I'm going. I used to think that was a bad thing but now it certainly gives me some momentum. Of course, I haven't hit that dead zone yet so it could all turn to custard in the end!

  8. I've definitely done some MSs more plotted than others and some more pantsed. :-P I think though, now that I'm on my...oh dear eleventh MS I've pretty well converted to more plotter than panster because I know the pitfalls of having things unplanned! Especially since the first MS, the one in Richmond, was pantsed and I've had to go through sorting out all the issues that came from that!