Tag Archive: writer’s block



Well, we’re mostly settled into our new place, so the dust is slowly settling from all of that.

 

 Well mostly settled.

 Still unpacking and organizing where we want things to go and how, but that’s just normal after a move.

But sometimes figuring out how to organize your story and where you want certain events or revelations to go can also be pretty tricky.  It can even lead to problems I’d never thought about, like Writer’s Block.  Or, as it was with me recently,  STEALTH WRITER’S BLOCK!

Now what I mean by that is a kind of Writer’s Block you aren’t even aware of.  To give you an example, this is what happened to me.  I had finished a particular scene in my current novel and had moved way beyond it with the rest of the story.   But for some odd reason, I kept finding myself going back to that scene and wondering about it.  It would happen every so often then I’d get back to where I actually left off writing.  But soon enough I was back to that scene again.  And slowly my whole writing process came to grinding halt as I kept studying that scene and dwelling on it.  It took me a week or more to realize what had happened and that I needed to fix that scene in some way to make the rest of the book make more sense and feel complete.

At this point you can see what I called it “Stealth Writer’s Block”, and I had a bad case of it.  I kept turning that one scene over and over in my mind, like I was working on a Rubik’s Cube.  I got so desperate I turned to a Magic Eight Ball and started juggling it just for giggles.  Giggling at this point is not a good sign.  If you find yourself suffering from this, please see a doctor at once.  Preferably “Doctor Who”.

 

 Ah, much better…

Seriously, I find watching something I really enjoy sometimes helps me get past writer’s block.  It allows my mind to wander, while being entertained.  A part of my brain analyzes the story I’m watching and breaks down its pacing, plots, subplots, characterization, etc., while the rest of my mind is being entertained.  Then I’ll compare what I’ve analyzed with the scene I’m stuck on and poof, inspiration hits or in this case insight.

After watching my shows and sorting through my musings, I finally realized what was wrong with the scene, nothing.  It was fine as it stood, it even worked well with the overall feel of the novel.  So what was bothering me about it, you ask?  I could expand and change it ever so slightly to important provide foreshadowing for events coming later in the novel.

So I went back and made the adjustments I envisioned and cranked out between 3000-7000 words in a couple of days.  I even cut down the overall word-count for the novel at this point leaving myself room for extra scenes I had in mind for the climactic final battle.  For those who are wondering why I’m worried about word-count I’ll address that in one of my upcoming blogs.  It is something all writers have to be aware of when you are creating the final version of your work which you intend to send to agents or publishers.

Now I have my book back on track and its looking much better.  The story seems more gripping and the overall flow feels more natural to me.  So beware of the dreaded “Stealth Writer’s Block”, it may appear at any time.  It may even have its claws sunk into you at this moment, if it does I have this advice.  Take two episodes of whatever is your favorite show and then call your manuscript in the morning.  Once it shows up for breakfast give it a really good going over and see if any tweaking might be needed.

Until next time, keep writing.


As you all know, for the past couple of months, I was pulled away from my writing by all the demands of my classes at the California State University of Monterey Bay.  But now all of that is over, until next semester begins late next month/early February when it all starts up again… possibly, things may change before then.  I’m up for a couple of job interviews which could change everything.

In any case, you’d think I would be eager to jump back into my writing right?  Yes and no.  Now don’t get me wrong, I’m still in love with writing, but trying to awaken my muse has been hard.  Being away from my writing for so long left me drained emotionally and mentally on the creative front.  Plus there’s been other things I had to deal with which also got pushed aside thanks to all the schoolwork.

Luckily a lot of that is done and I have more time to get back to writing, only I found I was stuck staring at “The Door” and not being able to do anything with it.

(NOTE: This is NOT the final design for the bookcover…  I’m still working on it)

Now before anyone mentions plotting, let me explain that I’ve always known where the final confrontation was going to take place and who’d be there.  I could clearly see each of the characters who needed to be there having their own special moment.  I even knew why they were there, but I couldn’t figure out what they’d be doing DURING the fight.  Most of the scenes I was picturing were aftermath moments, or pauses when the action moved elsewhere, so they had to be on hand.  But what were they doing while the action was happening was puzzling me.

I tried turning it over again and again in my mind only to realize I was once more dealing with a mental version of my old nemesis the Rubik’s Cube.  Only this time it was more intimidating than ever before…

I began to feel like I’d never solve this problem.  Again and again I’d start thinking I had the solution, because I could see the goal in the distance.  I’d even make good progress towards getting there, but then I’d find myself hitting another wall.  It was like wandering through the most frustrating maze I’d ever encountered.

Then yesterday, the breakthrough finally hit me.  I needed to work on the final battle FIRST and then let the rest of the story follow.  I had to place every character I wanted into that scene and find out for myself what they could/would/and finally did in that climactic moment.  Only then could I justify to myself as well as the reader, why they needed to be in this story in the first place.

Now normally I don’t usually work this way.  I’ve always used a loose outline, like in this case, and knew where I was going and led the characters to that moment.  Plus, I still needed to see what that final confrontation was going to look like for myself.

Immediately, I looked back at my own works “The Bridge” and “The Ship” and re-read the final battle scenes for each of them.  I quickly realized I had a tendency to go for some pretty impressive battles, that seemed almost impossible for any person to win.  But that’s always been my philosophy in writing.  The more daunting the odds, the more impressive the heroes are for overcoming them.

I would have to go big for this third installment, but not just in size.  I had to deliver something new and special for the readers.  I’d given them glimpses into some of the Para-Earths where my previous antagonists came from.  This time I needed to show the readers WHY some of these being needed to be kept out of our world!

At that moment, I knew what I needed to do… it was time to open “The Door” and let the nightmares from one of those other places come through.   With a threat of this magnitude in mind, I now know exactly how important it will be to have “All hands on deck”, as well as how to utilize each and every character in that scene.

So there you have it folks, once again I say “There is no one specific to write a story”.   We each may have our own special methods of writing, but sometimes even those techniques may not always be enough.  There will be days when we need to discover and add new tools to our already impressive arsenal.

I’m very eager and excited to get back to the story now.  I know that working that final confrontation is going to make how I continue to write certain characters in earlier sections of the book much easier. I already knew their motivations for the most part, but I suspect I’ll have better insight into their personalities because I’ll have a more clear idea of just how far their willing to go for their ultimate goals.

Remember everyone, stories can take many paths.  But in the end its the writer to must choose or forge the right one that will best serve the purpose in the end.

Until next time, take care and keep writing.


Don’t trash that crappy first draft!

Oh it may be full of grammatical errors that would send your high school English teachers into hysterics but that’s not reason enough to throw it away.  And maybe the plot line may move like a 1920’s Model T going backwards up the crooked mile, still is it truly worth destroying?  And perhaps most of the characters may be as shallow as a puddle, and probably deserve to be drowned in one, but do not throw that draft away!

Instead I want you read every last word, even if it’s hard as hell to get past the first few pages, keep reading!  Do not stop until you’ve read the entire thing.

Why? I hear you ask.

Because, that shitty first draft may be the most important one you ever write.

I’m being serious here folks.  And no I’m not going to be going on about how every journey in writing starts with a first draft, or something like that.  What I am going to tell you is that first drafts, even the lamest ones, have value.

When I first started writing “The Door”, it was going to be the second book in my Para-Earth series.  Mainly because it was going take up exactly where the first book “The Bridge” left off.  I thought there was no way I could possibly put another story in between the two, even though I really wanted to focus on the second lead couple (Cassandra Elliott, and Julie Cloudfoot) and their blossoming relationship.  My original plan was to develop their growing love in the second book, but things were getting too complicated.  Too many characters, too many subplots, I had to scale back.  So after writing almost 70,000 words in “The Door”, I said enough and set it aside.  Instead, I followed some “bread crumbs” I’d left myself (see my blog entry from January 31st https://akrummenacker.wordpress.com/2015/01/31/follow-the-breadcrumbs/) back in “The Bridge” and found an opening.

I had clearly stated that a month had passed between the climactic battle and the events that happened in the epilogue.  I had also sent Julie and Cassie over to the west coast.  I had plenty of room for a story in between that would involve just the two of them, as well as leading them back to witness the events that took place during the epilogue of “The Bridge”.  Thus, “The Ship” was born.

But even after I finished “The Ship” and published it, I was not ready to back to “The Door”.  Instead,  a new character had captured my imagination and I began work on “The Vampyre Blogs”, hoping to release it next, before returning to “The Door”.

However, after finishing the first draft of “The Vampyre Blogs” I realized I wanted to release it around Halloween and the time had passed.  So I sent it off to my editor for corrections, even though it was a first draft.  I know it will go through many more changes, but in the meantime, I needed to get back to “The Door” because it had to come before my vampyre’s first tale.  I needed to finish the underlying story arc that was running through my first two books.  It’s turn had come and I needed to finish it.

By this time it had been over two years since I last looked at it, so it was with experienced eyes that I pulled it out and started to look at the first few pages.  Originally, I thought it would be easy to insert just a few scenes and continue the flow I had started, but it didn’t work out that way.

Thanks to “The Ship” so many plans and ideas had to be scrapped.  And my writing style had changed.  A number of people told me how much my writing had ‘matured’ and now I could clearly see it for myself.  So much had to be changed and rewritten.  At times it almost seemed too much.

I began to doubt myself and wondered if I was really up to the challenge.  Could I really make this story work?  Time and again, I kept running up against ideas that no longer fit, and characters who needed to be removed from the story entirely.  I began to question myself and ask, “Should I just trash this and start over from scratch?”  But then I’d run across scenes that were perfectly fine and still flowed beautifully with the new stuff I was creating.   In fact, it felt like what was I creating now was way better than what I’d originally done.  And at the same time, the overall storyline was still following what I had wanted all along.  In fact, I’d found ways to improve it.

But I was still running up against obstacles and areas where I just wasn’t sure what to do.

Then by sheer chance, I was scrolling through the new draft which was being built on top of a duplicate file of the original first draft.  But I overshot where I had left off and found a scene I had completely forgotten about.  Pausing I re-read my words and was taken aback by the power of the scene and the beauty I’d created.  This scene HAD to stay, I told myself.  Then I began thinking, ‘Are there other scenes like this one I’ve forgotten?’

So I did the unthinkable…

I stopped work on “The Door” and took a few steps back.  Instead of writing, I decided to read every word and every page of the original first draft.

It hasn’t been easy at times, but I’ve been unearthing scenes that to me are absolute treasures.  I’ve also been cutting and removing other scenes and characters who no longer have any place in this book, but might be good for another story down the road.  I’ve saved those sections and preserved them in a separate file folder.  Those who’ve been following this blog know I always urge writers to do this.  What may not be working in your current book, might be just the thing you need in another one down the road.

As for the scenes I’m keeping, I am breathing a sigh of relief.  Some of them are better than I anything I might have tried to replace them with.  New ideas and ways to move the story forward are opening up to me.  But I still have to finish re-reading that ‘shitty first draft’ before I start writing new scenes.

There are more scenes and ideas I’ve forgotten about, of that I’m sure.  I may not want to keep all of them, but I suspect even if I don’t keep any of it, they will give me knew ideas.  So don’t give up completely on that first draft.  Save it, learn from it, and build from it.  You might even want to preserve certain scenes from it.

All stories start with a first draft that can be more than a little rough around the edges.  But without a first draft, you can’t begin your story.

Until next time, take care of yourselves my friends, and keep writing.

Follow the Breadcrumbs…


 Recently I went through another bout of Writer’s Block.

Actually, I hit this particular wall some months ago.  It was while I was still working on the original 1st draft of “The Door” when I encountered the block and it was a doozy.  No matter what direction I tried to take the novel in, things just seemed to get more complicated and confusing.  Too many characters, too many plot points and subplots going.

In the end I wound up working on “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home” story.  I had a pretty clear vision of where I wanted to go with that one so I worked on it instead.  I did this partly in the hopes of having a breakthrough with where I’d left off with “The Door”, but in the end I never got past it.

Even when I completed the first draft for “The Vampyre Blogs” I wasn’t any closer to getting past my block with “The Door”.  Now anyone who’s dealt with a severe case of Writer’s Block will tell you that it can be a real pain in the butt.  Especially when you can’t seem to find a way around the bugger.  No matter which way you turn, forward, left, or right, you can’t seem to get past it.

Well, I finally decided to go back the way I came and see if I could find another method by going over my old tracks (or in this case my previous novels).

This actually worked for me because “The Door” was directly connected to my two previous novels “The Bridge” and “The Ship”.  Most of the same characters were involved so I had something to work with.  While going over the previous books I started to notice little details I had just thrown in here and there for flavor or setting.  And it was there I found that I had inadvertently left  a trail of breadcrumbs that I could follow, which I did.  Soon I saw a whole new direction that I could take “The Door” in that I had never even considered before.  What made it even better was the fact that it was a path that was very clear, at least from a writer’s point of view.  I could plan out little twists and turns to take the reader on, while at the same time still see exactly where things should land up.

Again these details seemed minor when I first put them into the previous novels, but now they were giving new life to the story and it was exhilarating.  Who might have known who? Was one of the breadcrumbs I’d left behind in the first story.  The audience knew a relationship had existed between these two characters, but the ‘leads’ in my story were totally unaware of the connection.  Upon realizing this I got an idea of how that information could be learned, prompting whole new scenes and plots for “The Door”.

Another little crumb came from yet another 1st draft that I plan on getting back to next year.  A portrait that hangs in one room was to play a part in that story.  But then it occurred to me that the portrait could be used now in a way no one would’ve expected.  An alteration was made to it that will become a huge revelation for my heroes in “The Door”.

So right there, an unfinished subplot along with an innocuous piece of setting suddenly provided me with the means to start racing along with the story once more.  I still have a ways to go, but at least I feel more on course with the book.

Now this does not necessarily work with all cases of Writer’s Block, but you can add it to your writer’s toolbox.  And it doesn’t necessarily have to involve other works you’ve got going.  There might be a piece of scenery or a character quirk inside the story you’re working on.  Look around see what you’ve done, you never know when you’ll find you accidentally left a trail of breadcrumbs in your wake that might lead to a breakthrough in your story.

So until next time, take care and keep writing.

A Forgotten 1st Draft…


For those of you who have been reading this blog for a while, you’ll remember I’ve mentioned a number of times about saving your work on Google Drive, or on a Memory Stick, or even a CD.  I’ve also suggested that when you edit your work, if you’re going to cut a scene to save it in a special folder.  I say this because even though the scene, or even a character, doesn’t fit in the story you’re working on you might be able to recycle it for another story down the road.

The thing I forgot to mention is that occasionally you should go and look through that folder every so often.  Especially if you’re looking to start a new project, or have hit a bad case of writer’s block.  Something in that folder may be just the thing to help you get your scene going again.

I also have another special folder that holds works in progress that are unfinished.  Or in some cases, are pretty much a complete first draft... (said under my breath while looking away in embarrassment)

You forgot you had a completed 1st draft?

“Yes, I’ did.  I got caught up in other things,now be quiet Roscoe!”

As I was saying, yes I found I had a complete first draft in that file folder.  It needs reworking of course, but the entire story is there.  Unfortunately, it will be a while before it sees the light of day.

Why?  Because it is a historical period piece that involves Brandon Elliott, one of the major recurring characters in my Para-Earth Series.  His spirit appears frequently in order to watch over Cassandra Elliott, his many times great-grandchild.   However, her story is not finished yet and I cannot tell his tale until hers is finished (sort of).  The two are intricately connected in such a way I have to finish telling her secrets, before I can reveal his.

However, this will be resolved soon.  Cassandra’s secret will be revealed in “The Door” which I hope to have ready in May 2015.  Then after releasing the second installment of “The Vampyre Blogs” in December 2015, I will aim to release Brandon’s story in early 2016.  His story is so big it will take at least two or more books to do it justice, but I’m looking forward to doing it.

Anyway, getting back to my original point…

You actually forgot you had a completed 1st draft?

“Yes Roscoe, now let it go please… sheesh!”

As I was saying, the practice of keeping special folders and backup copies of my work has helped me on a number of occasions.  I’ve even got a 50% finished first draft of “The Door” waiting for me to get back to.  Like the other works I have on the back burner, having some of it already waiting for me to get back to it, actually gets me eager to return to it.

So remember, save those parts you edit out and keep checking the folder you put them in. You never know when you might find a treasure in those folders that can totally turn your work in progress into something fantastic.

Until next time…

He actually forgot?  Oh that is rich!

(sigh)  He is just not going to let this go is he?

Until next time take care and keep writing.

I’m Back Baby…


In the immortal words of Bender the robot from Futurama “I’M BACK BABY!”  Things are finally settling down from our recent move from Santa Cruz to the Monterey Bay Area.  Both my wife and I have started up with more classes.  She is going to a university, while I’m still studying at a local community college and looking for work.  I’ve been getting applications put in but little response so far.  But hey, at least I’m trying.

In the meantime I’ve been making some serious headway on my 2nd novel “THE SHIP”.  Things had ground to a halt on that front even before we started the move.  I kept finding myself going back to one particular scene I’d done about a third of the way into the story.  Something about it kept nagging at me and I had to keep going back and looking at it.  It was a good scene with plenty of action and even some serious foreshadowing of things to be revealed later in the story.  But there was still something not quite right about it and I just couldn’t get myself to work on the rest of the story because of it.  Eventually I realized I was having a strange type of writer’s block that I dubbed “STEALTH WRITER’S BLOCK” in my other blog.  It was so subtle I hadn’t realized what was happening and that it had brought my whole project to a grinding halt.  However, I finally broke through it in the last few days.  I realized as good as the scene was there was more I could do to it in order to really help the overall story along.  Better foreshadowing along with an important glimpse into Cassandra’s family history, that will play a major role not only in this novel but the next one as well.  I’ll probably post a section of this rewritten scene here in my next entry.  I don’t want to make this entry too long.

I’ve also been working on my Vlog a bit more and have decided to open up a bit more about myself to all of you in it.  Sometimes talking or showing is easier than writing.  I’ve got several videos planned out, one of which will be a sort of tribute to one of my favorite types of film, the silent comedies from the early 1910’s-1920’s.  Another will be about settling into my new place and getting acquainted with the area a bit.  While the third one will go deeper into how I create and develop characters for my novels.

So stay tuned for those.  And as I mentioned before, I’ll also be posting more of my 2nd book here very shortly.  Thanks for reading and take care.  I’ll be back with more soon.


From my writing blog comes a warning.  There’s a new type of writer’s block out there.  Click the link below to learn how to recognize and deal with it:

http://allankrummenacker.blogspot.com/2012/09/stealth-writers-block.html


Hi everyone.  For those who haven’t realized, I have this blog and another one.  This blog has been mostly for talking about my novels that are finished or are under way.  The other blog which I’ve titled, “MUSINGS OF A CREATIVE MIND” is all about writing itself.  Dealing with writer’s block, getting ideas and inspirations, trying to find an agent, my efforts to get published, all that good stuff.

Now in regards to novel #2 “THE SHIP”, the total word count is up to 61,000.  I haven’t had as much time to write lately due to college demands.  I’m getting close to finals already so the workload is increasing.  I’m going to spend most of this afternoon though on the novel.  I’m caught up for the moment and want to take advantage while I’ve got the chance.  Next weekend is going to be shot because I have a special all-day class on Saturday to wrap up one of my classes, so I won’t have as much time to do other things.  But rest assured, “THE SHIP” is now 2/3’s done and I hope to have a completed 1st draft by the middle or end of June.

In the meantime if anyone is interested in reading my other blog, today’s topic is about “LAYERING”.  For those who don’t know that term it’s a phrase to describe how a writer will add on more and more details to a scene/setting to give the reader more of an idea or feel for the action and where it’s taking place.  For more information please click on the link below:

 

http://allankrummenacker.blogspot.com/2012/05/layering.html


Writer’s block.  We’ve all had it at one time or another.  I’ve heard many suggestions on how to deal with it.  Here’s a few of my own:

1-Uncontrollable sobbing in the nearest corner.  This does not necessarily solve the problem, but it gets some of your frustrations and emotions out of the way.  NOTE: Doing this for two or more days straight may signal a bigger problem, men in white coats with big nets come to take to you to a much happier place.  At least they did with me.  You know, I always picture Disneyland a lot bigger and more colorful.  The white padding in that room just didn’t really scream Mickey Mouse to me.

Okay that got the silly out of the way.  Here are some real suggestions.

Go out and exercise.  Take a walk, swim, do some kind of physical activity that gets you away from the computer.  Your brain will still be working quietly on the story mind you.  I’ve had more than one occasion to be hitting the treadmill when a path suddenly becomes clear in the story and I keep working it while I’m exercising.  As soon as I’m done I hit the laptop and move on.

A change of scenery, go to a beach, a mall, a forest, a mountain… whatever’s available where you live.  A different perspective can trigger ideas.

Work on a different or later scene in the story.  Sometimes this can help lay groundwork for ideas of how to reach this later part of your story.  You may inadvertently come up with some background ideas that can suddenly get you past whatever’s got you stumped.

Another suggestion is look at the section your on.  How important is it to the story that it remains in this form.  I’ve written several pages in a scene only to hit a roadblock and finally come to the conclusion that the scene just isn’t  working.  I’ve revealed too much or some of what’s going on in it does nothing for the rest of the story.  Or certain revelations I’ve put down here might work better elsewhere.  So I’ve literally torn sections up and did them over from scratch in a totally different manner that led to a better story arc.

So there are a few of my ideas.  How about you all?  I’d love to see and hear what you folks have found to work for getting past the dreaded “Writer’s Block”.  Please leave comments and thanks for reading.

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