Tuesday, June 30, 2015

What To Do When Your Manuscript Is Stuck by Vannetta Chapman

Vannetta Chapman
I love new ideas. You know that moment--the one where you're looking at a brand new page, on a clean new document. That place where you are just beginning. It's like an unmarked page on a brand new calendar. There are limitless possibilities!
Fast forward a month, or several months, and suddenly you're rather tired of these people you have created. You're not sure where they're headed, or why they're going there. You really wish you could just move on to another project. Or maybe that's just me!

So what do you do when your manuscript is stuck in the mud? How do you move on? I'm working on my twenty-fifth manuscript, so I have some experience with this phenomenon. Here are a few things that have helped me over the hump.
  • Stop and write your ending. I do this every book now. I begin at the beginning, and then write until I'm bored. That's usually somewhere between 30 and 40 thousand words. When I find myself STUCK (playing more solitaire, cleaning out the bottom desk drawer--you know the symptoms), I move on and write the ending of my story. This might be one chapter or a dozen. You might be asking, “How can you know the ending if you don't know the middle?” I just envision where I want my characters to be when the book is done.
  • Take a break! Sometimes you need a day or two, maybe even a week, away from your manuscript. Set a defined limit and give yourself time off, then start back at it with a well-rested mind.
  • Go to the hammock with a pen and paper. Write down 10 things that could happen to your characters. Don't police your thoughts. Anything goes here! Be as outlandish as you'd like. The next day look at your list, pick one idea, and follow that thread.
  • Consult your notes. If you had any original notes for your manuscript (or even an outline, maybe a synopsis), pull it out and look at it. No doubt, your characters have developed in different ways than you imagined and your plot has taken a few curves. What about those original notes still appeals to you?
  • Pray. You initially felt that God put this story on your heart to share. Ask for guidance and a direction. Ask that God bless your words and your work and use it to touch lives.
  • Keep writing. Even when it feels like you're writing complete nonsense, keep writing. Push through until you find the path your characters are supposed to take. Yes, you may delete some of these pages later, but deleting is not a problem. Just. Keep. Writing.
Being stuck is not a sign of imminent disaster. In my opinion, it's a natural part of the writing process. Hopefully one of these ideas will help you when you’re stuck in the mud. Now it's your turn. What suggestions do you have for writers who are stuck?

About the Author
Murder Freshly Baked
by Vannetta Chapman
Vannetta Chapman writes inspirational fiction full of grace. Her novel, Falling to Pieces, was a 2012 ACFW Carol Award winner for best mystery. She writes Amish mysteries for Zondervan, Amish romances for Harvest House and Amish novellas for Abingdon and Zondervan. All of her books have been Christian Book Distributor bestsellers. Her most recent release is Murder Freshly Baked, the third book in her Amish Village Mystery series. Chapman lives in the Texas hill country with her husband.

Murder Freshly Baked
When delicious baked goods become lethal, a trail of poetry leads to a sweet-toothed killer.

The Amish Artisan Village of Middlebury, Indiana, might be the last place you would ever expect to find a murderer. But Amber has been managing the Village for decades and there’s nothing she hasn’t seen. Or so she thought.

When poetic notes begin appearing around the bakery, warning that some of the pies have been poisoned, Amber is as confused as she is concerned. Who poisons pies? And more to the point, who leaves poems of warning after they’ve done it?

Can Amber and Hannah help the police before the Poison Poet strikes? Both women will need to draw on their faith to preserve the peaceful community they’ve built in Middlebury . . . and to protect the girls who work in the Amish Artisan Village.

2 comments:

  1. Oh Vanetta, what a terrific book you've written. And I love your hint about writing the ending when you're stuck. I did that just yesterday. Now, I'm not really stuck...I know what I need to write but...this is for a Christmas anthology and 15K tops...so I know I need to economize with words--yet say what I want the reader to know and hook them right away. Sigh. Well, the ending is good LOL. Thanks for a great post.

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    Replies
    1. Congratulations on finding your ending, Tanya, and thank you for your kind words. I've found that novellas can be very challenging as far as word economy. My advice? Leave out any back story. Delete all those unnecessary dialogue tags. Stick to your story and don't follow any rabbit trails. I know you can do it!

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