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33

Fix it now. If you realize you made a mistake, go back and fix it now. Not, I stress, because the last 20K would be "wasted," because no writing is wasted, but because it's clearly blocking you and you don't want to write it. Carve off whatever pieces aren't going to fit and put them in a slush file. I like this method because it feels less painful than ...


29

I am a discovery writer, I have been for many years, and I complete stories. Scrap your outline. Most discovery writers (including me) have struggled with what you are talking about; finding the climax, resolving the character arcs, dead-end "mysteries" that we could never figure out. The solution to that is simple, but it is NOT outlining. For a ...


15

(I think you know what you have to do ... It hurts, but do it.) Here's the format I would follow to cut darlings in your situation. I'll assume you are writing a novel, some sort of fiction. Do you have a main character? (Or do you have an ensemble cast.) I'll assume one main character. If you have a main character, is there a single 'high stakes' idea ...


14

That's understandable. There's always that tempting desire to write things as 'efficiently' as possible, where the time spent planning a particular section turns immediately into results when writing that section. It's also something that rarely works the way you'd hope. There are great benefits to knowing where you're going before you write it. There's ...


13

If you can't boil down your novel into a logline (or "elevator pitch," which is how I learned it), then you may actually have a problem with your novel. You've provided the structure of your answer in your own question. An elevator pitch must have: the protagonist the goal of the protagonist the antagonist the stakes of failure So pick those out of your ...


13

Wait for Inspiration... ...but in the meanwhile, if you've been working on this project for a decade, you really need to do the slogging through to get the story written. I would place holders (a bit like in this question) in the story with notes about what should go there, and keep moving on with the story. If you're anything like me, you'll be going along ...


11

The only way to resolve it is to write. I'm a discovery writer too. I get excitement from just "imagining" how things could go, how the world might be, and how the character should react. Did you notice? I used verbs in conditional form. That's because - no matter what your brain tells you - a story isn't done until you write it. It doesn't matter if you ...


10

I'd like to add to Lauren's answer: whenever you realise that the story has problems, whether it's in the plotting, character development, or whatever; whenever you realise there is a problem, go back and fix it now for several reasons: as you write, you are exploring possibilities but, in this case, you are exploring bad possibilities (and you already know ...


9

Your brain is convinced it's done with the first draft, which means it's time to start the second draft on the story cleaning up everything and filling up any missing details as needed. Which is a new task and one that you have to do regardless of how complete the first draft is. Yours just happens to be pretty barebones in the second half, but that's ok, ...


8

Depending on what kind of writing you do, you don't necessarily need an outline. If you're writing a short story of few thousand words, then, sure you can just bang it out. But writing long form fiction, the outline is useful so you know where the story will be going and most importantly how to get there. A big problem is that people often know how to start ...


7

There is no one answer to this because everyone writes differently. Some people have to outline every beat in every scene; some are complete pantsers. Every book is different too; some stories need a lot of outlining and some fall into place with broad strokes. Move forward, and if you're finding yourself bogged down or meandering, back up and try some ...


7

Some say you should stop writing this story altogether. Others that you have to fix what is wrong or finish it first. These might all be valid options. But from what I hear, 'fixing' this story is pretty much the equivalent of writing a new one. Might I suggest considering this story you have written some research material into your setting and events? And ...


7

Personally, an outline is the bare bones gist of my story as originally conceived that I then, more or less, stick to as I write the story to stay on track. It lacks depth and emotion as I purposefully don't give it control of my story. But in my head I have whole worlds of ideas about the characters and the story line. As I write, the characters develop, ...


7

Outlining is just a tool in your writers' toolbox. Many very successful writers never outline at all. But it can be helpful to give your work structure and overall coherence. It's easier to see those big overall patterns from the bird's eye view. Ironically an outline is one of those things that may be most helpful when you don't stick to it. Think of ...


7

There are many ways of outlining. Here's a suggestion for those who have 'outline allergies'. Write the first chapter (or the first two). This will get you inside the skin of the characters and will get you excited. Now, pause and make a list of the main things you want to happen. Don't be detailed, but feel free to add a few details if they come to you. ...


7

Try breaking your outline into chunks, and write small novelettes for them. At the moment, you "feel like [you] have already completed the task" - you look at the skeleton in place, and think "that looks the right shape". There's nothing wrong with that. But, if you look at the outline from a different angle, you have actually turned 1 task (write a story)...


7

There are two kinds of discovery, not one! I am a outliner, not a pantser. I am also a plot-driven, not a character-driven writer. I love outlining, but always the finished product has huge departures from the outline. What I outline is plot, with very little character work. The plot is my creativity set free to do what comes easily: creating worlds and ...


7

There are many different processes, and none is "right" or "wrong." They just work well for different writers. You need to find the one that is a good match for your own strengths and weaknesses. There are a few writers who can just dive in and intuit the structure. But the majority of writers do at least some planning and outlining. If ...


7

Forget the old dialog You don't state explicitly if having forgotten the old dialog trips you up or not, but in case it does, you should accept that you've forgotten that dialog. But even more, I've noticed that I'm able to tag some of my thoughts with a "brilliant" tag, only to later, when I tried it in reality it turned out that was just a tag I ...


6

EDIT (16 Oct 2017): A lot has changed in the last 3 years. Plotist now offers worldbuilding and writing tools, including a timeline and an outliner to help organize the writing, and it supports real-time collaboration so you can work with others creating your world and stories. We now offer Plotist as a subscription service, but we still have a free ...


6

You should go next where you should have gone to begin with: What does your story have to say? Many authors appear to be of the opinion that a series of pointless anecdotes vaguely connected by some plotline and told about some random characters that they like will somehow make a good story. A good story starts with the author knowing what concepts, ideas, ...


5

A and B meet. A and B fall in love. Optional: A and B enjoy snugglebunnies. Obstacle gets between A and B. A and/or B overcome obstacle. Omnia vincit amor. (since it was requested that I turn this into an answer)


5

I will assume you know how to generate twists. But I want to offer a particular technique so I can refer to it later. Wilhelm’s Law: Throw away your first three ideas. This comes from SF/mystery writer and editor Kate Wilhelm. The thinking behind Wilhelm’s Law is this: Your first idea will be obvious to most readers. Your second will be less obvious, but ...


5

I believe some things that can help are: Focus On Scenes Stories are really scenes played out in front of the reader. This is really the show, don't tell axiom. What Is Your Point? I'm sure you have a point (theme) so go ahead and summarize that point. Maybe something like: crime doesn't pay people who own cats are the best people shoes are an example ...


5

Having been in this situation a few times, what I have done is gone back to the start and begun again, not throwing out everything I have written already, but learning from what I realised works and doesn't work. For example, in one story I changed the gender of a main character, which was very significant. In a play, I changed the number of characters. ...


5

Painful as it is, circumstances like this can warrant writing an entirely new draft from scratch. Your memories of the characters and plot points from the current draft would inform you in such an effort, but you're liable to produce a "greatest hits" rewrite in which those minor characters you like become more major characters. I had to do this once ...


5

Yes, you should be able to 'feel' your outline. I admit I don't really outline in writing, although I do have well defined characters and a problem in my head before I begin writing, and I do feel the emotions of my characters in scenes before I write them. I think if your goal is to evoke emotions, you should really be outlining the emotional journey of ...


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