Mark Terry

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Sleepless in Moscow

June 9, 2010
I couldn't get to sleep last night. There were probably a number of reasons for that, but one was because my brain wouldn't stop picking away at the problems I'm having with my latest wip, the 5th Derek Stillwater novel.

It takes place in Russia, among other things. And it's wrestling me to a standstill. Not only is the Russian part driving me crazy, but the overall structure of the book is pissing me off. To me, it seems to meander. I want it to be intense, like the other books, but there feels like there's too much down time and not enough propulsive narrative.

Some of those issues have to do with the fact that, if I have a "brand" or a "Mark Terry" book, it has a ticking clock and escalating stakes and...

And in this book there's no ticking clock yet and although the stakes are going to escalate soon, they're not doing it fast enough, and...

So my brain was churning along and I was debating whether to try to fix it, to just continue slogging through it, to put it aside and try one or two other ideas I have...

I think I'm going to try and fix it, but it's possible I'll take a stab at one or two of the other ideas and see if they work out better.

Am I the only one this happens to? Is it really that there are problems with the wip, or am I just hoping there's an easier solution somewhere else? Is this just another version of the Bright and Shiny New Idea Syndrome?

What say you?


Blogger LurkerMonkey said...

"Am I the only one this happens to?"

Sadly, no. But at least I'm glad I have company in my heretofore personal hell. The last six months have been trés frustrating on the writing front. Projects not working out like I wanted, others taking too long. Just ugh.

12:16 PM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Yeah, nice to know all your friends have joined you in hell.

12:18 PM  
Anonymous Eric Mayer said...

I tend not to care if books meander or lack terrific amounts of tension which just means that when Mary and I are writing I have to try that much harder to try to keep things moving since most readers aren't like me! But the sort of thing we write the job is just to make sure things don't get too slow rather than ratcheting up the speed to a high level.

1:31 PM  
Blogger Erica Orloff said...

It sounds, putting you on the couch here, like this book has some nuances and character development that is different and you aren't comfortable with it. But might it not be that you've explored a lot with Derek and maybe a slighter different sort of Derek book is in order? Can they ALL have a ticking bomb? Can't some be for long-time fans getting to see a different side of him? I don't know. I say this as a fan of character-driven novels.

1:45 PM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

That's the question. And having basically written 4 ticking bomb books featuring Derek, I want to try something that is more expansive, a little more espionage-like, as well as character-driven. But that doesn't make it easier. The damned thing's just harder to write.

1:50 PM  
Blogger sex scenes at starbucks said...

No way are you the only one. I gave my WIP to the group last night and my primary question is PACING.

Russia is keeping you up nights. Hmm. Sounds familiar. What I think is holding you up is the same thing that holds fantasy writers up: world building. You're so busy getting your reader accustomed to the new world (Russia) that you feel like you're spinning your wheels while they listen to the tour guide, look at the pretty buildings, and chuckle at the odd dress of the people. I'm guessing you'll have a great deal of world building that you'll have to cut later. I'd just press through the draft, get to your ticking clock, and then see what can be cut later. I often have to work through a lot of world building stuff, write it all out, to figure out what's essential to the story.

3:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The ticking clock is great -- when the situation calls for it. But use it too much and it becomes like the later seasons of '24.' Or the Star Wars books where the Imperials kept trying to build superweapons. Death Stars, Suncrushers, giant robot camels.

I'd set the chapters aside and go back and take a hard look at your outline. Where did it bog down? When did you stop having fun?

-- Largo Chimp

2:06 PM  

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