Writing When You Feel Overwhelmed: Hope for the Struggling Writer

M. B. Weston's Official Website

How many of you have felt totally overwhelmed when you realized the amount of work it would actually take to complete your story?

I’m sitting here at Starbucks. I’m supposed to be writing the rough draft to Book 3 of The Elysian Chronicles, but I have to admit that I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed. I’m trying to get my arms around the scope of this story, and I’ve discovered it’s much more complex than I originally planned. (Aren’t all novels, though?)

Here are a few things I’m struggling with:

  • I’m actually working with two plots that have to flow simultaneously. Two plots. One story. This means two story arcs. Each arc has to hit the plot points at the same time. Sounds easy to do, but I have to admit that working out the plots of Out of the Shadows (book 2) almost killed me. And then these two…

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The Dehumanizing Nature of Labels

More Enigma Than Dogma

shamedListening and reading Jon Ronson talk about shaming and modern dehumanization has resonated with my concern over our massive identity crisis.

It is as if Ronson has woken up in the middle of a tempest to take some responsibility for his own “butterfly effect” contributions to pushing the storm. It is, as he puts it himself, “like being in a car with failed brakes hurdling toward the cliff” where “we are often defined by our worst mistakes.”

There was a time when he saw “public ridicule as ‘the democratization of justice’ — but after writing his book on the topic, he’s changed his tune. He has taken a closer look at people who have had their reputations destroyed on social media, and how difficult it can be for them to recover… shaming has become ubiquitous and too often disproportionate, and that fear of being attacked has made…

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A System for Writing a Novel

The Incompetent Writer

Scene and structure
There is no magical trick for writing a good story, no perfect shortcut.

However, Jack Bickham’s craft textbook Scene and Structure attempts, to a greater extent than most technical manuals, to give aspiring novelists a comprehensive method. He presents a simple and easily understood system for designing and trouble-shooting novels. It’s well worth reading.

There are lots of books out there promising to tell you how to write better plots. In one sense, Scene and Structure is just another one of these books, much like McKee’s Story or Synder’s Save the Cat! However, as I’ve described in previous posts, Bickham’s method is unusual because it begins at the sentence level. Bickham grounds his account of how stories and novels are supposed to work, at their largest, macro scale, on how he believes sentences are supposed to work — he derives his storytelling method from his view of how individual…

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