When the Story Just Ain't Happening

For me... as I struggle to conquer the fear of beginning a new book. For my friends who are struggling with WIPs. Read screenwriter Philip Morton's March 29 post on 'Breaking Story.' Thank you to Ken Levine (who also has another informative post today!) for the link.


Mary Stella said…
Those posts were incredible, Beth, and exactly what I needed to hear today.

Thanks for turning me on to their blogs. Must add to blogroll and regularly revisit.
Beth Ciotta said…
My pleasure, Mary. Two new daily reads for me too. Ain't Blogosphere grand? :)
Anna Lucia said…
I'm guessing what he's refering to as 'brealing story' is what I call the story's 'gestation period'? That time it takes to get it straight in your head and pull it together?

Scenes have a gestation period, too, and unfortunately that can be five minutes or five months... sometimes ideas have to cook in your subconscious for a while. :-)
Cyn said…
I have learned lately that I definitely have a gestation period for my stories.

For the book I am working on, I brainstormed for months before starting. Mostly because fantasy is new to me, and I had never created a new world. I had also, for exercise sake, had written on the fly two manuscripts that I could not finish. They informed me of the story I might be trying to tell, which was not the ones I was writing, but at least I knew in which direction to turn my attention. They also informed me that I cannot write a sustainable book-length story without some idea of where I am. Not a big idea, just some.

But my short stories usually get written without pre-thought. Then, after they're written, they need to sit until I understand what I might have been trying to say. Then I can make sure that my point was made and hone it as best that I can. Some shorts have sat for a year a more, and then one day, the point of the story might pop into my head out of nowhere and then I can go back and finish.
Mary Stella said…
For me, breaking a story can be like the Big Bang theory of creation. Something happens -- an idea, a lead sentence, a circumstance -- that announces, "Mary! Write me!"

That's what happened with the first two books anyway. There was less of a BAM moment for the current book which might be why I'm having trouble getting it to break free of the clog in my brain. I love the characters, however, and that's SO important.
Beth Ciotta said…
Morton wrote: "You need the idea that will inspire you, unlock your heart, make your mind thrilled. It will have: energy. It will not have: structure, arc, or sequencing."

I had that energy, that fuel in my tank when I first wrote the synopsis of the story I am now trying to write. I was connected, heart unlocked, mind thrilled. The problem is, I wrote the synopsis a year ago. Since then I've written two more synops and another novel--all in contemporary times. So now, not only am I trying to adjust my mind to writing a story that takes place in 1870s American West, I'm trying to rediscover the fire I felt for a story I conceived thirteen months ago. I'll get it. I know I will, because I love the story and the characters. It's just taking longer to reconnect than I'd like. Unfortunately, with the fast approaching deadline, a gestation period isn't an option. If I don't blog as regularly for awhile, you'll know it's because I'm in the trenches. Cheers!
Julia Templeton said…
The part of Morton's blog that spoke to me the most is: "You need the idea that will inspire you, unlock your heart, make your mind thrilled."

I wrote it down and taped it to my monitor for inspiration. I WILL finish this proposal by this evening!

Roni said…
Beth, to reconnect with your story, why not go back and read Lasso The Moon? I bet you'll want to continue the adventures of the characters after visiting with them for a while! I reread my post on yesterday's blog--sorry about the typos. I meant to say I loved all your books but typed loed. Glad you understood what I meant. ;) Also...I hope you will someday revisit the world of Jinxed, etc. With Colin's bodyguard service expanding to include Joe and Sofia, maybe it will expand some more to include characters we haven't met yet? I hope so! And then we'd all get glimpses of Lulu and Jake and Afia too, not to mention JP and Rudy...Hope you like the idea (for the future, I know you're busy now!)

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