Writing blog -- cont. by MLR

Sometimes it's real hard to muster up the energy to try to get over road blocks. It's one of those things where you work hard to get something right, you wait a day, you realize you failed, you start over, you fail again, you sit on it for another couple days mulling it over, you try again, and then by the time you finally get it right you realize that you just spent a week and you only managed to eke out two pages, and that you still have 300 to go. Makes you feel like you'll never finish.

But luckily those roadblocks don't occur very often, so it's not as bad as all that. And you feel even worse if you don't try to keep going, so when I said back in one of the essays I uploaded here that writing can feel like exercise, this is exactly the kind of thing I mean. I assume I'm not the only one... otherwise there wouldn't be this stereotype of writers and booze.
(Incidentally, I try not to drink while writing because I like to keep strict focus these days. I tend more toward coffee.)

Anyway, I'm slowly approaching the last section of Part One, which is roughly a third of the book. A lot of the issue right now is trying to fix old logic problems. Like, the scenario of part one is for the protagonist to try to find a way to get on the good side of two warring factions so that he can leave without either one getting on his case about it, so you can imagine it's not hard to develop plot holes for something like that. My road block this past week has been trying to find ways around those plot holes. Oddly enough, my continuing training in scientific writing I think has helped me out with this type of thing greatly (namely in being able to focus on the details while maintaining the big picture in my brain), though I find it's extremely hard to get it perfect. Hence why all those amateur internet movie critics who spend twenty minutes at a time nitpicking things to death are real assholes (unless they've actually tried writing screenplays themselves, of course).

Writing blog -- cont.

MLR

12 July 2015 at 21:28:15 MDT

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  • Link

    plot holes are like roadway potholes. They can appear unbiddened after a rainy spell. Outlines help somewhat.

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      They do. And I do have an outline that I work off of, but of course it's fairly vague (because it's an outline). So often the littlest details are the ones that you find yourself having to track down. I'm guessing you've dealt with this many times... I don't suppose the worldbuilding you do helps?

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        It helps, and keeps the biosphere setting in line. But not too detailed. Since the stories I do in that world bounce over a period of a few decades, I keep a time line of ages and brief bio of characters.

  • Link

    Aha! Now that you've escaped the writing and booze trap, you have joined us in the even bigger writing and coffee trap! Make sure on your way down you land on top of one of these guys wearing wool caps and huge beards in the middle of summer.

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      I happen to have a job that's extremely amenable to drinking coffee (astronomy; particularly when I'm at the telescope), and then I do a hobby that's equally amenable to it. So there's no escaping the trap.
      Is that in the middle of summer in Nevada? (I seem to recall you lived there, although I might be thinking of someone else.)

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        That's good. One of these days I'd love to bother you to tell me what it really takes to be an astronomer, so I'll know whether or not I'm right about my own chances of taking a shot at it. Yes, it is in the middle of summer here but that does not stop the hipsters from wearing wool caps or scarves sometimes.

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          It takes four years of undergraduate study and research, and then another five or six years of graduate level study and research, and then two to ten years of postdoctoral research if you want a shot at a secure position somewhere. Or you can become an amateur astronomer by purchasing and learning how to use a telescope and finding a nice dark spot you can hang around late into the night.

          I lived near Hawthorne a really long time ago. I visited Tonopah fairly recently. Wearing a scarf almost anywhere in that state in summertime would seem like suicide, to me.

          • Link

            Good to know, although I more meant what it takes on a more specific academic level. For example, despite that I would love to study the stars professionally, I can't remember mathematical formulas to save my life. I can talk your ear off all day about Ancient Egypt until you want to die, but trying to remember one formula!

            You would think. Considering how much body heat hair holds in I would think the ginormous (I was honestly expecting a redline with that word) beards would also be unbearable.