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Jay Lake
Date: 2009-10-10 12:40
Subject: [writing] I love it when a story comes together
Security: Public
Tags:process, stories, wip, writing
Just finished the first draft of a Sunspin story entitled "Permanent Fatal Errors", at 5,600 words. This one was a little harder than usual for me, though I wouldn't describe myself as blocked, exactly. Started it last week, got hung up on the 500-word stub I'd begun with, so I went and did other writerly things, then life got in the way for a couple of days. But now it's done, with about 2,100 new words today to wrap the draft.

A fun thing happened in "Permanent Fatal Errors", one of those nuggets of craft candy which makes writers so very happy. Early on, I'd put in a nearly throwaway bit of characterization regarding my protagonist. About 2/3 of the way through the story, the throwaway bit came back as important in a plot point. Then it turned out to be critical to the ending.

That sense of, "Oh, hey, I knew what I was doing all along, how about that?" is real spiffy writer cookie. I don't get it in every story, but when I do, it's fun. Kind of a buzz. And it renews my generally strong faith in Fred, my subconscious writing mind that makes most of the decisions and does almost all of the heavy lifting.

Since we're talking about a new draft, some WIP:
"That's it," said Paimei. Her fingers closed on his shoulder. "You're out the airlock, buddy."

"No," said Chillicothe. "Leave him alone."

Another rumble from Patrice, of agreement. Maduabuchi, in sudden, sweaty fear for his life, couldn't tell who the man was agreeing with.

The flechette pistol was back against his ear. "Why?"

"Because we like him. Because he's one of ours." Her voice grew very soft. "Because I said so."

Reluctantly, Paimei let him go. Maduabuchi got to his feet, shaking. He wanted to know, damn it, his curiosity burning with a fire he couldn't ever recall feeling in his nearly two centuries of life.

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The NewroticGirl
User: newroticgirl
Date: 2009-10-10 20:20 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Yay Fred! I looooove when the subconscious sticks something in before the conscious decides to need it. In both my novel attempts, I came up with OMG COOL details and went to go back and add them in... only to find I had already done it. That's my favorite writer cookie. :D
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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2009-10-11 16:36 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Is this story coming out somewhere?

Thanks for the kind words! It's written for an invitational market, but not yet accepted. If the story doesn't suit the editor's needs, I'm sure I'll sell it somewhere else. Watch this space for more details!
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User: manmela
Date: 2009-10-11 06:03 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I had one of those recently which changed the end of a story I was writing from being a pedestrian SF story into a kinda weird space fantasy and , IMHO, a better story.

I'd be interested to hear how you got through your block. I tend to draft in my head, getting things in a rough order before committing to paper. Things are allowed to change during the course of writing (as with the above) but I have an end even if it's not the one I ultimately use.

I've tried just jumping in an seeing where the story takes me with a recent project, and I just write myself into a corner and get frustrated. Maybe I just can't do this sort of approach, but I'd like to have it in my toolbox if possible, even if it's not my preferred method. What do you do when you get hung up? Do you write in a literary McGuffin that you know will be taken out in a later draft in order to proceed? I'd be interested in hearing about the creative process you go through when you get hung up (you may have covered it before, but I can't remember anything off the top of my head)
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2009-10-11 16:38 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Mostly I dealt with it by writing a different story, "Such Bright and Risen Madness In Our Names", doing some critique, then coming back to this story and writing some more. I wouldn't describe it as block in the usual sense - I was quite able to write other things, just not this story. That's Fred's way of telling me he's not ready.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2009-10-11 16:41 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
What do you do when you get hung up?

Write something else. Seriously. There's not much point in forcing it, and my hangups rarely last more than a day or two anyway. I don't think I've had classic writer's block for more than a weekend long any time in this decade. I've been blocked from writing for other reasons -- travel, cancer, life crisis -- but not the "sweating at the keyboard but the words won't come out" kind of block.

Do you write in a literary McGuffin that you know will be taken out in a later draft in order to proceed?

Interesting thought. That's never occurred to me. Mostly I let it stew a little and keep going. Sometimes, if I do have to push on regardless, say, for a deadline, I just let it flow as near-nonsense, like free writing, until I find my way back to the plot. That then can result in a fair amount of trimming during revision, but fine.
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User: rambhai
Date: 2009-10-20 10:31 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Good to know about it anyhow stories are great way to present a situation before you. Recently i am through
Chetan Bhagat Book named 2 States: The Story of my marriage and found that love story to be a great one.
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