When a story falls apart

You know what I’m talking about. You get through the backstories, fix all the faces in your head, and smile to yourself when the soon-to-be lovers meet in the most unlikely of circumstances. You can’t wait to see where it’s all going, but that’s just what you do. Wait, that is. And wait … and wait some more. When something finally happens, it surprises you — not because it was an interesting twist, but because one of the characters just did something totally off the wall. Then all the promise of the first couple of chapters fizzles out like fireworks in a flooded basement, and you thumb through to read the last page before tossing it onto your “recycle” pile.

The only thing worse than reading a story that falls apart is writing one. I once turned in a book to my editor and told her I wasn’t very happy with it. She answered back that my instincts were pretty good. Talk about “damning with faint praise.” Fortunately we were able to salvage it, but not without a major rewrite that turned the whole story on its head. I don’t think I’m going to get that far with the story that’s currently on my desk, something I’ve tentatively titled Rhapsody. I’ve been working since August on intricate character sketches and chapter outlines, but I haven’t been able to muster the excitement to start writing. I finally admitted the reason today — there’s just no umph to this story, nothing that pushes a reader’s boundaries or takes her to an unexpected place. In a word, it’s boring. And if it’s boring to me … well, I can’t expect you to waste your precious time on it. Not when you could be watching Hoarders or Dog the Bounty Hunter.

For now I’m tucking away all my notes, waiting for the umph to strike. That’s usually how it works — the muse finally drops by to poke me about one of my dormant ideas and I find myself suddenly inspired. That happened with Out of Love, a story that laid around untouched for two or three years. You see, two ladies hooking up at a convention did not an 80,000-word novel make. It was the doppleganger idea that finally got it moving. Something like that will eventually happen with Rhapsody, but in the meantime I’m going to empty my head and see what fills it. I’ve got nothing on Bella’s production calendar for 2011.

Since I’ve already dragged you through all the details of my recent back surgery, I’ll fill you in on where things stand. That’s a pun, get it? I still can’t sit down for more than 20 minutes at a time (unless it’s really important, like when I have my hair colored). There’s a good chance I’ll miss the Xena con this year, because I can’t imagine I’d last 5 hours on a plane. I’m healing just fine though, and if my fusion looks good I’ll start physical therapy in a couple of weeks. I have to get in shape for the TSA inspectors who’ll be looking at me on those pornoscanners at the airport.

Don’t even get me started on the election.

One Response to “When a story falls apart”

  1. Love your work and am now working on reading through your blog until I find the post I suspect is here regarding one of my favorites of yours but long story short – How do you hack your way out of writer’s block? Do you get them or call them time-outs? 😉

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