Writer's Block – When the Story Rings False

I am sure people have writer’s block for various reasons. Physical exhaustion, idea mill broken, lack of interest in own story; etc. All of these have either stopped me, or at least slowed me down. But for me, by far the biggest reason I get writer’s block is when the story is starting to ring false.

Sometime, when I am writing, I suddenly stop when I realize a character will not do what I expected. But darn it–when they do that they disrupt my whole story. I fight them, and try to make them act according to my (always sketchy) plot.

And then the muse falls silent.

Well, I was writing along quite nicely a few weeks ago, when I realized that my main character is not going to fall in love as planned and scheduled. She fell in love with my other lead guy. I brushed it off, and tried to continue. But I didn’t try very hard because I knew it was pointless. I decided to take a short break from the story. So I worked on a different story and finished it up. I read a long epic fantasy. But I kept thinking of this story and another one, where something similar happened.

Most of the time, my characters adore each other as much as I thought they would. This happened with Gretchen and Lars in The Magic Mirror and the Seventh Dwarf, and I had zero problem with Talia and Willard in The Sevenfold Spell. But others require more work. I’ve now figured out the new plots for both stories. One is a fairy tale novella that I just started, and the other is my time travel novel, which I have been halfway through for an entire year.

Now I need to decide which one to work on first. Probably the novella, because it should be quicker to finish. Hopefully I can write it in a month or two, let it sit for two weeks, then do some revisions, get beta reads, do more revisions and send it off by the end of spring.


18 Thoughts to “Writer's Block – When the Story Rings False”

  1. At least you got the problem figured out. Congratulations on that. πŸ™‚

    Last time I had problems with a love story element it was because the hero spent so much time either unconscious or kidnapped that he had no time to actually get to know the girl. If their declaration of love hadn’t been a major turning point in the plot, I would’ve realized the story was off balance before writing the whole book. But nooo. (Stares sadly at metaphorical trunk that exists in cyberspace to hold all my trunk novels.)

    It’s good that you know yourself and your story well enough to stop and let your subconscious work when things get out of balance instead of bulling ahead. πŸ™‚

    1. Tia Nevitt

      Ha! I ought to have a post where we just laugh at ourselves and our trunk novels. I LITERALLY had a trunk novel for many years because I wouldn’t throw it away, but now it is reduced to a virtual trunk novel.

      I didn’t have any trouble writing the damned thing. Pesky little problems like character motivation and plot advancement didn’t bother me back then.

  2. I remember reading something by Michelle (Sagara) (West)* complaining that keeping her writing true to the characters is often very inconvenient for her as an author. She lets the characters have their way, but she complains about how tricky that can make things for her. I don’t know if she has many tips for what to do when this happens, but you could at least find commiseration over the tirals those psky characters insist on putting their authors thru. {odd smile, wink}

    Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

    * She has ongoing series under Michelle Sagara and Michelle West,a dn has also published under Michelle Sagara West

    1. Tia Nevitt

      Thanks for the tip! I looked up her website. Gosh, I love it! I want her theme!

      I have Cast in Shadow on my Kindle, but I have not finished it yet. Have you read it? I got hung up when she was taken by that crimelord (of sorts) and never finished reading that scene.

      1. I thought you might like Michelle Sagara West. I chatted with her in a newsgroup once; she’s nice. {Smile}

        I tried _Cast in Shadow_ late last year, but I just wasn’t in the mood to read it. I couldn’t see any reason for that; it just wasn’t the right thing for me to read. Enough other books fell into the same category in recent months, I think I’ll blame a touchy mood caused by recent upheavals. _Cast in Shadow_ is one of the first books I want to try again when life has calmed down again. {Smile}

        Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

        1. Tia Nevitt

          It’s still on my to-read list too.

  3. I’m glad you worked out the problem. It can be really tricky to get characters to do what you want them to. {Smile}

    Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

    1. Tia Nevitt

      I have hopefully fixed the problem. πŸ™‚ Thanks for hanging with me!

      1. Thank you for fixing it. I found not being able to enter the conversation fully frustrating. {Smile}

        Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

  4. Deborah Blake

    I hate it when my characters won’t cooperate! Don’t they know who’s in charge? Oh, nevermind.

    1. They are. Oh wait, I may be thinking of cats… πŸ™‚

      1. I think it’s both. Between my cat, my parents, my characters, and my muses, the one thing that seems to be clear about who is in charge is that it isn’t me! {Chuckle, lop-sided Smile}

        Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

    2. Tia Nevitt

      Unfortunately–or fortunately?–they know exactly who is in charge!

      1. I’ve noticed. My characters are reasonably happy to share power with my muses, but with me? I’m just along for the ride. {Chuckle, rueful Smile}

        Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

  5. Late jumping in- I’ve been too busy staring at my next story unable to write it because the main character won’t let me. Maybe it’s going around, like the stomach flu?
    The writers of the “Spider-Man” comic said the same thing back in the 70s- they’d find the story was breaking down, and realize through talks that they had been trying to make him do something wrong for his character. Erase, back up, try again- bingo.
    There’s a right-ness to the great characters, and I’m tickled to claim I saw it about my world from the start (only “mine” in that I see it, not that I make it up at all). So I’m waiting on my new MC, just watching her and trying to understand rather than waste time writing her into a box she doesn’t belong. I’m itchy to be more productive, but when I sit and watch, little things fall in place. Maybe soon…

    1. Tia Nevitt

      Brainstorming sessions might help. I tend to do this when I have trouble falling asleep. Of course, I sometimes have trouble remembering my ideas when I wake up …

  6. Wow, this discussion is still going! (Sort of.) I should’ve come back sooner. πŸ™‚ My problem isn’t so much that my character doesn’t do what I want as that I’m having a hard time getting her voice. Every other MC I’ve written has been fairly open, but this girl believes in keeping an emotional distance. I’m spending the whole story going `is this person even relatable?’

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