February 26th, 2010
Talking a Novel Out or How To Get ‘Unstuck’ 101

Last year I started writing my young adult urban fantasy. Everything was literally flying along…until I took a break to write a novella for an upcoming anthology. I figured since the work was short I wouldn’t have any problem jumping right back in to my YA. WRONG!!! I have struggled with the manuscript ever since. It’s been a hard lesson to learn. Quite painful. One I will not soon forget. Some writers have the ability to pick up right where they left off. I am not one of them. I haven’t made any much progress on the book…that was until today. Yesterday I spent several hours charting out what has already happened in the manuscript and what needs to happen. Today, I phoned a dear friend/critique partner to ask for assistance about the romantic subplot. (I was worried there wasn’t enough romance and that it wasn’t going anywhere.) A strange thing happened when she picked up the phone. I started talking about the story. The whole story, not just the romance, and it began to fall into place. I knew the bulk of my problem was in the first act. Like I said in yesterday’s blog, things were happening too quickly. As I talked, gaps began to fill in, new scenes appeared, and the outline fleshed out. For forty-five minutes, my friend just nodded and said ‘uh huh’ while I babbled incoherently about the story. It wasn’t what I phoned for, but it was exactly what I needed. By the time I hung up, the entire story was in my head. I quickly wrote it down on notecards. Now I’m ready to jump back into the manuscript. I have the road map to follow. My destination is clear.

I’ve brainstormed a lot with my critique partners, but I rarely talk a novel out. Brainstorming is a give and take of ideas. Talking a novel out is more like a brain dump. You as the author are working out the problems you’ve been having on your own, while a VERY patient friend listens. Sure they may jump in with a question or a suggestion, but for the most part you are running through the entire story on your own out loud. It’s like telling someone the story while new ideas are popping up along the way. It’s exhilarating. I cannot believe how excited and RELIEVED I feel. I can’t wait to jump back into the book.

6 comments to “Talking a Novel Out or How To Get ‘Unstuck’ 101”

  1. Yay! *shakes pom poms* Write, Jordan, write!

  2. Thanks Charli!!! 😀

  3. I jump around between projects a lot-always have.

    Sometimes when I get stuck on one, what gets me unstuck is just putting it out of my mind for a few hours, or a day or two.

    Sometimes, though, what I have to do is go back to the beginning, find what I’m snagged on and just undo it.

    I hate snags. 🙁

    Good luck with the MS!

  4. Shiloh, I have tried working on multiple projects, but I never feel like I’m making progress on any of them. (ie five pages here, five pages there, etc.) I know every little bit helps, but I find it difficult to finish anything when I do that. I do however get the appeal. It’s nice to switch gears to something that is moving, when you’re stuck. 🙂

  5. Hey, whatever works. 🙂

  6. Bernard, I hear you. 🙂