Monday, 12 November 2012

My story sucks and I have no idea what to do about it

Oh, look - a day that requires a blog post and a depressed writer. Seems like a match made in heaven, doesn't it? I guess that means I'm gearing up for a gloomy ramble about how much my story sucks.

It begins here: every time someone or something nudges me in the direction of a question like "So, what's your story about?" the whole thing just crumbles into a pile of something crumbly and not very story-like. I can't summarise the plot of this story in one sentence or one paragraph. I'd struggle to get the point across in five or six pages of rambling. I've been hanging onto the notion that all I'm trying to do is make the story slightly less crap, but I don't know how long that can last. I feel the need to have a solid, easily explained concept behind my story and I join my story in that pile of crumbly stuff when I'm reminded that I don't have one.

"So, what's your story about?"

Option 1: half an hour of rambling about heroes who are really working for bad guys, a woman who has no reason to be involved in the story at all but for some reason is the main character, timetabling problems for thousand-year-old trains, demons who aren't really demons and a whole lot more that just makes the poor questioner's eyes glaze over.

Option 2: "Um... What story?" *runs and hides*

While I'm writing I feel all right, because I can bury myself in details and enjoy the interactions between my favourite characters. When I step back and try to look at the overall concept, though, it just looks like that crumbly pile of stuff that doesn't look much like a story. It's just disconnected bits of I don't even know what.

Much like this blog post. I think I'll leave it there for now and go and wonder about my characters' motivations again.


  1. I know how you feel! I hate when people ask what my story's about. Either I'm scrambling to find a good way to describe it or I don't want to describe it because I know it's not what the other person wants to hear, as I tend to write relatively political arguments, and it's inevitably someone who completely disagrees with me who's asking.

    Either way, whenever someone asks me that question, I start to have serious doubts about my story. So you're not alone in that. For what it's worth, the way you described it in your post makes your story sound exciting to me. The idea of heroes working for bad guys sounds really interesting!

  2. You're not the only one with disconnected bits of crap that fall apart when you try to explain it. I have the exact same problem with mine. Yes, there is a concept, but it's all disjointed scenes and random things from everywhere. The temptation to keep poking at the characters' motivations is always there, but remember that you can only go so deep without ending at a standstill. Eventually you'll have to go back to writing, in order to move the story forward again.

    Ah, but where is forward? Confusion.

    Well, when I look at mine, I see each scene (if they can even be called that) pointing in a different direction. It's chaos. Am I flogging a dead horse and going to the barbecue trying to align them? Maybe. But the more I write, the more I know where NOT to go. And sometimes, that tells me where the bits of the actual story fossil might be. Just remember that sometimes you can't see a direction BECAUSE you're so close to the story.

    ...I'm not helping, am I? ...You'd think I'd have better advice, seeing as I am in the same situation, but really...I kind of just keep on writing, waiting for my characters to wake up and tell me where to go. :-P

    Just keep working at it. Remember that there is a light at the end of the Tunnel, but the Tunnel is very, very long. I think it's just a matter of time, and then you'll find the voice of the story, and all of those pieces will fall into place. The thing is that sometimes they fall so slowly, and in such small patches, that it's hard to see when you're so close to the story. And that's the thing: stay close to your story, until all the bits stick together. Don't give up. You'll get there eventually! :-)

    ...Wait, so Marihan is NOT a demon?

  3. ...and I don't even know how to explain that. It all depends on the exact definition of 'demon'. By the definition known to the general population in the story, he's not a demon. However, the definition and the mythology are (sort of) his fault so he mostly goes along with it. Strange guy, but I like him.

    Yes, that cleared everything up nicely :P