April 25, 2017, 03:52:58 AM

Author Topic: How to continue working after a long pause?  (Read 445 times)

Offline Fallen One

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How to continue working after a long pause?
« on: January 12, 2017, 01:32:16 AM »

 Hello

  A couple years back, I started writing a fantasy novel, which I improved on occasionally. It's been months, however, since last I wrote on it, and I find myself lost in it. The fact that I've skipped a few chapters in between (i.e. wrote chapters 1 to 15, then 18, then 20 to 25) isn't helping.

 Any tips for getting back on track? I'm re-reading it, but I'm not sure if it'll be enough.

 Thanks for the help!
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Offline The Gem Cutter

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Re: How to continue working after a long pause?
« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2017, 01:45:25 AM »
I've done that many times. This story started when I was 11. I will be 50 in March... so yeah. I gotcha. With the caveats that my process is still unproven, and that even if I had generated a praise-worthy, profitable novel, my process might still be horrible at worst and only workable for me at best, I'll explain what I did.

I started fresh, from the core ideas and major scenes. I "kept" nothing. And I wrote a better work by far, even at this 75% point (conceptually and prose-written). The words that were good, for the most part, I remembered. The rest I keep in a drawer.

This forced me to reassess what and who I wanted to write about, and how I wanted it to sound. I did not like the way it sounded so I looked at books whose sound, whose voice I most loved. Bernard Cornwell's work immediately came to mind - so I shifted to First Person and ran with it. My 'darlings' that got left behind are waiting in the wings for books 2 and 3, so I am not sad about my drawer full of unused stuff.

I know this will come across as conceit, but I love the book and the characters, even with their flaws and ragged edges. I did not love what I had written before.

I hope this is helpful. Good luck!
The Gem Cutter
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Offline The Gem Cutter

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Re: How to continue working after a long pause?
« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2017, 02:15:45 AM »
Pardon the double-shot, but I think this idea stands on its own. If the time was long enough, or your living hard enough, you are probably in a different mental and emotional place. Your old story may very well not accommodate the new ideas and perspectives that you now have. However, a new story based on those new attributes will probably easily allow for the best of the older ideas to be included - perhaps with a greater sense of truth, irony, and the other things that time gives us as we go. Food for thought.
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Offline xiagan

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Re: How to continue working after a long pause?
« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2017, 09:56:35 AM »
Welcome back, Fallen One!
I'm in a similar place, so curious to see what advice this thread will wield. :)
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Offline CameronJohnston

Re: How to continue working after a long pause?
« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2017, 05:45:35 PM »
Well, I've left unfinished things for far more than a few months before and found it impossible to return as there would be so much I'd do different. I'm loathe to scrap and re-tread old ground when there are so many new and different stories to play with.

After only a few months I think you need to first need to re-read the whole thing to get back into the mind-set. That may not be enough, so what you might want to consider is a spin-off short story, either back in the past or in between events. Perhaps even a minor character's story not told in your novel. Something, anything to get you back into writing, and back into that world of your novel.
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Offline Nora

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Re: How to continue working after a long pause?
« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2017, 06:55:21 PM »
Agree with Cameron. I'm the same with my own short stories, the personal ones. The contest takes me away for a month or two, I get in the heads of new characters, and loose track of the ones I was writing about, or stop caring for the story, because I know how it ends!
So I'd recommend getting back into it through short work, short story spin offs, rewriting chapters, or maybe doing some in depth charting, if you've built your thing chapter by chapter already?
Can't hurt to sit down and try to write chapter 16 and 17. Maybe you'll have to do them over a few times, but by the time you're smooth from one to 20, youd be back into it, and with a novel 3/4 done!
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Offline Peat

Re: How to continue working after a long pause?
« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2017, 11:27:25 PM »
Did you stop writing altogether, or just writing this book? And why did you stop? And how badly do you want to continue with this book? What about it is making you so lost?

A few ideas that might help you

- Editing it. Editing will make you think about what you've been writing a lot more deeply than just re-reading it and might give your the boost needed to resume work. I'd recommend either the last chapter you wrote or the first. I think the first makes you think more about what you intended for the story, but doing the last allows you to just keep working into a new chapter when done.

- Doing a plan for the unwritten chapters. Do a more detailed plan if you have done one. Again, it will help you think about the book without having the pressure of thinking of good sentences at the same time.

- Writing a short story with some of the characters. That will give you confidence in using their voices and what they're about if that's what's ailing you. And as Cam says, it will get you back in the world.

Not gonna lie though, my favourite method in these situations is start again. Generally, if I've had a stutter that big, it means there was something wrong with it. I can either start writing again with the same characters and plot - often stealing parts of the original prose - or I can move on to something new and cannibalise the good bits of the lost story in the future. Either way, the original story lives on in some form, but I'm working on it a more manageable format.

That doesn't sound like what you want to do right now though. Call it plan Z.

Offline Fallen One

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Re: How to continue working after a long pause?
« Reply #7 on: February 20, 2017, 06:52:49 AM »

 Well, in the end I wrote a short chapter to close the story for the time being, then started a new, completely unrelated, story. Maybe one day I'll continue it.
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