Writing Problems: Characters Without Plots

I briefly mentioned in my last post that I have another novel idea I’ve been working out, for a while. The first idea explosion came to me a few years ago, and it’s been building and expanding ever since. I’ve got my three main characters, I feel like I know who they are, what they are, how they’re connected, and what their issues are in this book. But I don’t know what they’re supposed to do.

I’ve got a vague idea of what I want to be building up at the beginning of the novel, but I haven’t any idea what I’m building up to. I don’t know who my bad guy is, I don’t know the threat, I don’t know the ultimate goal. It’s incredibly frustrating.

I often start stories with a shttps://i0.wp.com/openclipart.org/image/300px/svg_to_png/31309/Crow_2_.pnghadow of an idea of the end, but at least that’s there, the shadow. If there’s a blankness, it has to do with the conclusion, not the whole real plot leading up to it. If I were to start writing this now, I would only be working towards emptiness, and if I got to that emptiness before another spark filled that gap then I would be completely stuck, and I don’t want that.

What I need to do, I think: immerse myself in kid’s books, the creepy kinds (I want this to be pretty creepy) and research, something I’m really bad at. Crows feature heavily in this idea, and I need to learn more about them, what they actually are, and also, maybe, what they are in myth and fairy tale (incidentally, if anyone knows a good crow myth I will love you forever if you send it my way.) Hopefully something will take shape, big enough to fill that space.


When you have a new idea, do you let it stew? Or do you dive in and worry about filling in the gaps later?


Writing Problems – Can’t Get the Ending Right

I said in a previous post that I did not know what my ending would be. Well, here I am at the end, and just as I thought, I’m lost.

This happens to me in just about everything (with a plot) I’ve ever written. Short stories or novel length, I get close to the end and can only seem to figure out the story one line at a time. And even then, I will write so many different versions of the ending that it feels like I spent just as much time on the last two chapters as I did on the first twenty. Right now I’m at the beginning of this process, with pages of writing I know will be heavily reworked or completely tossed out.

For me, finding the true ending only comes after making a series of mistakes. False starts, cross outs, deleted chapters, and probably a notebook chucked across the room. Eventually I’ll find it (I think), maybe on my own, maybe with help from a reader who’s willing to look at this sloppy patched-together mess. But I’ll get there (hopefully) and it will be great.

And then I’ll realize I have to change the beginning to make it work. (It never really ends.)