Writerly Dilemmas

So, I’m writing. All sorts of things. There’s a big folder there crammed with ideas. A notebook full of half-written stories lies right next to it. And then there’s that novel that has been racing around my mind for a long time now, waiting to find deeper form than a series of character notes and snippets.

But there’s always that moment when the ‘car crash’ happens. Feelings of discomfort, worrying over the content and style. A fear of continuing in case you fail.

My biggest problem at the moment is having ideas that go nowhere. I have a situation, a character, a ‘moment’. But as soon as I start writing, I suddenly realise that there isn’t enough plot here for a short story. No big twist, not enough event. So, unhealthily, I am jumping from one idea to the next, then abandoning ship. Have you ever been there? How did you overcome it?

I have one answer. I have decided to revisit a short story I was working on a while back, which has a full plot already down on paper. The reason I gave up hope on this one was because there wasn’t enough incident. My mission now is to create incident. Make it exciting! Bring it to life! The other ideas I have scribbled down, they’ll all find life someday, if they’re meant to. I might cannibalise them, combine them, or just steal little bits from them. Nothing ever gets thrown away, of course. Although, occasionally, things do get lost.

I want to focus on short stories, before committing to the novel, because I feel that I should try and build up a back-catalogue of completed works that I can learn from, before tackling something much larger. Stephen King had a large body of short fiction published before his debut novel. I’m taking a metaphorical leaf out of one of his books, I suppose.

So here I suddenly am. Trying to resurrect an old idea that I poured my heart and soul into a few years ago, only to ruthlessly abandon it without mercy. I hope I can make it work. I hope I can reignite that spark, and find a way to make the story engaging. Time will tell, I suppose.

The beauty of being a writer is, technically, although writing this post has been a form of procrastination, it is still writing, and furthermore, writing about the thing that I am procrastinating away from! Does that mean I’m clever, or devious?

And one last, completely unrelated ‘thing’: When does a short story stop being a short story, and start being a novella?

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9 thoughts on “Writerly Dilemmas

    • Thank you so much! Massively helpful. I have been hammering away at something for years and it seemed to big for a short story yet far too short for a novel. Hugely helpful 🙂

  1. I think we’ve all been there… the best ideas come when you are writing something else! I have abandoned before, but now I know the way to go is to write down as many notes about the new idea, then set it aside for later. Saying that though, there’s nothing wrong with abandoning something if you have tried all angles and know it won’t work… as for novel, novella, short story… the story will dictate it’s length to you…some things are meant to be 100 words long, some 100,000. Main thing is, keep going, even when it seems tough 🙂

    • Thank you muchly ^_^ Very good advice there. It’s always good to store away those ideas, just in case. But sometimes, when you move on, something will click into place for a past piece…these things just happen don’t they, unexpectedly?

      That last sentence is the best advice a writer could have, and that is what I’m doing, what we are all doing. Fighting on. We have to believe in what we are doing! 😀 😀

  2. Susi is bang on. Remember Stephen King’s ‘debut’ novel was actually his 7th fully written novel!! I am not a short story writer, I find them hard. I am either really short, or I am really long. For building plot, you need to ask yourself, what do I want to say here? what do I want this to be about? What is the point I am trying to make here? what is happening to the character? With short pieces I tend to go with what might horrify me or disturb me (being a horror writer), whereas so far my novels (2 completed and 2 halves) have been more about a journey the MC is on, what they are going through. I tend to have an end in sight, but not always sure what will fill it. And as Susi says, it will be as long as it is going to be.

    And I find that this kind of writing – writing about your writing – actually helps to clarify what you are trying to achieve, in your own mind. I believe in writing everything out, which is why I find morning pages (writing 3 pages about whatever is in your head when you wake up) really helpful. I am not great at doing it daily, but when I do, do it, I feel it frees up my mind for more creative things.

    But of course the main thing is, to keep writing.

    • More invaluable advice! You are correct of course, Miranda. The novel I am working on is a combination of various other ideas, and while I kind of know where it’s going, it still needs more work.

      I love the idea of morning writing. Just scribbling down whatever is in your head at that time. It’s a great concept, and one I shall put to the test. It’s a great way of processing thoughts, and maybe an idea, a theme, a character may emerge from them!

      Thank you so much for commenting on this. You ladies are full of excellent advice. It is greatly appreciated! 🙂

  3. Have you ever tried combining two of your ideas (the more polar opposite the better) together to make something, I tend to do that with stuff, especially with non book blog posts as well.

    I read a sixty page story once and an eighty page one, one of which caused a kerfuffle for winning a prize and then being embroiled in the is it or isn’t it a novel. Interesting words as always sir!

    • It’s funny you say that Ste, because I do often do that. I sometimes have several ideas all so different, yet too similar, and so I try and combine them. It does work, although it takes time to merge them successfully.

      I think the whole novel/novella thing is confusing enough. It gets worse when you consider the ‘novellette’!

      Many thanks, sir!

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