Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Insecure Writer's Group

Today I am participating in Alex Cavanauugh's Insecure Writer's Group.  The purpose is to share and express our trials, tribulations and successes.  The goal is to support one another and boost each other's confidence so that our imaginations can become reality. The first Wednesday of every month we post our insecurities or if we're lucky our successes.

I have a lot of insecurities, but for this month I'm going to stick with my current problem.  I have completed 3 children's picture book manuscripts that I'm quite happy with after numerous revisions.  I've sent them out repeatedly but can't seem to generate any interest.  So I've decided to let them sit for awhile until I can figure out what to do with them.

In the meantime, I've begun to focus my attention on a novel. It's not going too well.   Maybe it's because I'm used to writing books with only 500 words, but I can't seem to get past the first chapter!  I really like my first chapter but I don't know where the story should go from there.  I feel lost.
I've tried to write the second chapter but the supporting characters seem wooden and boring.  Then I wonder if my overall plot is really just a jumble of ideas that don't really fit.  I've tried making a skeleton of the entire story, but I get overwhelmed and then I check my email or blog and I don't come back to it.  So it sits there, like a planted seed just waiting to be watered.

If you have any suggestions I'd love to hear them.  How do you go about organizing your novels?  Do you have a set "map", or do you just go with the flow?  Do you make a complete character sketch for each character or just the main ones?

I'd also love to hear your successes!

Thanks for all your support!



  1. Whenever I'm stuck on a certain scene, I write a completely different chapter.

    When I don't know at some point how to move the action forward, I simply make a note in my manuscript like, "something will happen here". Then I continue writing until my brain unlocks and I know what I need to write in that previous spot.

    I hope this helps. Good luck!

  2. Before I starting writing a book, I need three things in place.

    1.To know who my main characters are, not inside and out yet, but to be able to see them, know their desires, their fears and what the journey is going to be about for them.

    2. To know where I'm going to start. Not where the story begins for me, but where it should begin for the reader. What triggers the journey?

    3. How the journey will end. I always know the end of the book before I start. I may not know how the characters will get from the starting point to the end point, but I have to know where they are headed.

    I spend I lot of time with my characters in my head before I start typing that scenes will emerge in my mind capturing different conflicts or some dialogue. I write it down in a notebook. So when I start typing, I can eventually figure out where it goes.

    There's nothing wrong with knocking out a first draft and fleshing things out in revisions. However, editing will be easier if you have an idea of where you are going at the start.

  3. I'm more like Angela than Isis - I never have the faintest clue where I'm going - I feel my way in the dark. Take your wooden protagonist and do something really really horrendous to him or her. Squeeze them and they will show you what they are made of. It is hard for us nice folks to be mean to our characters but it is absolutely crucial. Good pluck. Jan Morrison

  4. Kathy- When I'm stuck I realize my internal editor is kicking in and making it worse. So I start concentrating on little ideas of the story I want to tell. Like little flash pieces of what the character goes through or what they say to someone else ect...then my head gets back into what I'm doing and I get excited about writing from one of these short little flash pieces.

  5. you definitely need to know your characters. you should know their background and be able to describe them to someone like you would a close friend. (i'm a planner and draft the back story & personalities for myself to refer to)

    then with their actions & dialog you'll show the reader who they are =)

  6. I think Angela had a great point. If I'm stuck, I'll write a scene. Might not even be one that is intended for the book, so maybe something I think happened in the past to a character. Just to keep flowing. Good luck!

  7. Maybe try writing short stories first and your ideas may blossom from there.

  8. No publishing success here yet and I don't know of any one magic formula. I think you're doing the best thing in being patient and persistent. Keep at it and believe and eventually others will understand what you're talking about.

    Tossing It Out

  9. Write just one word at a time, a description, a narrative, a dialogue and keep at it. The first draft is meant for you. Good luck!

  10. October 6, 2011 at 9:05 pm

    just stopping by from Alex Cavanaugh’s blog… on the Insecure Writer’s Support Tour!
    concerning ur post, i find that when writing a novel, the characters are always wooden for the first few chapters... but when i get to know them better, they get more interesting, then i go back and rewrite the first few chapters..........

    “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do”

    -Steve Jobs

  11. that actually happened to me this week, and I was only just trying to write a 600 word piece for the Rule of Three blogfest!

    But to be fair, I am pulling the character out of my larger WIP and I wanted the action to match the direction my WIP is going. So that raised the stakes a bit.

    I had a general idea of what I wanted to happen, like when you glance a photograph and you see what it's about, and you think you KNOW what it's about, until someone asks you to describe the photo and you realize you missed a whole lot of important details, and your recollection is actually flat and boring.

    So what I did was I went to lunch with my husband, and I asked him to listen to me tell him about this story. He's generally unhelpful about these things, lol, wants to "solve" my problem without understanding that I actually just need to be speaking the words. But I'm teaching him, slowly. :)

    Anyway, so I sat there and told him the story, and I was forced to confront the gaps and fill them in. And my husband asked questions that I was forced to think of an answer for. I didn't really have a "conversation" with him, but speaking it out loud to him and trying to make it all make some sense to someone else's ear actually helped tremendously! In places I even said, "I'm not sure if this should happen or if that should happen," and pretty soon it became obvious what direction I wanted to go in.

    And then I went right home and finished.

    That's about all the advice I can give you because I'm inexperienced, but that's what worked for me, yesterday. :)

  12. Angela- I will try that. Thanks

    Isis- Wow thanks for all the great advice. I think I need to combine your planning with Angela's "something here" approach

    Jan- I like the idea of "squeezing" my protagonist until she shows me who she is.

    Summer- You're so right. When my internal editor kicks in overdrive it's paralyzing. I like the idea of using flash pieces to get me passed those rough spots.

    Tara- Uggh! I knew it. lol. I guess I have to spend more time developing my characters. It just seems like there are too many possibilities for them!

    Tricia- Yeah you're right, if I can keep the flow going I'm ok. Just keep writing, just keep writing.

    Tonja- Thanks, I guess I just have to take it in pieces.

    Arlee- Thanks, it sure helps to be able to count on all of you for support!

    E. Arroyo- Thanks. Thinking of creating 100,000 words that all makes sense is overwhelming, but it's not so daunting taking it one word at a time.

    Jeremy- Thanks for stopping by! Makes me feel better to think I can cure my characters' woodiness later.
    Love the Steve Jobs quote.

    Thanks so much everyone! You have all given me a huge boost and I realize that I really just have to keep writing and not give in to insecurities. :)

  13. Clickerbug- LOL. Love the idea of talking it out to my husband! I wonder what he'll think of all my crazy ideas!