1. How do you narrow down ideas and figure out which is workable? What elements while building a plot should I be on the look out for so I know if its feasible?
You don’t know if the plot will work until you write it. You’ve seen me show trunked material. It was trunked because we wrote about a quarter or so of it and the idea didn’t work, but nobody knew it wouldn’t work until it was actually words on screen.
In general terms, you are looking for escalation. The ideal commercial fiction plot is constructed with escalation units.
Character is presented with an obstacle -> character overcomes obstacle -> the triumph creates a new, even harder obstacle.
Indiana Jones makes his way through a Nazi camp and finds the site of the buried Arc of the Covenant only to be buried alive in it.
Character is presented with an obstacle -> character fails obstacle -> character scores a small victory.
The resistance obtains the Death Star plans, Princess Leia attempts to escape, fails, but manages to send a message to Obi-Wan Kenobi.
If you really want to do it, you can take just about any commercial narrative and break it down into escalation units stacked on top of each other. Now, nobody I know consciously thinks about their story in terms of escalation units. This is usually instinctively understood by the writer, but if you are having issues, try breaking your plot into these chunks. It can help you identify the slow moving parts of your narrative.
How do you deal with plots that begin from ‘issues’ while not letting political correctness take over the whole narrative?
Steven King said that if you want to preach, get a pulpit. So don’t preach or lecture the reader. Instead just show how the issues in the narrative affect your characters.
Your question doesn’t quite make sense without specifics. “Issues” to me would mean dealing with discrimination. That’s really the root of most social problems: someone is treated unfairly. It’s good to keep in mind that most of the time “political correctness” means going an extra step to not offend someone. There are people who get hysterical about it, because human beings do take things too far, but most of the time, it’s simple: don’t call people mean things they don’t like. Otherwise known as being polite.
If your character is a raging racist, he is going to use racial slurs. If your character is terrified because the world is changing and her instincts warn her that her survival is in doubt, she will lash out. Remember, we are driven by the need to survive. If we are surviving well, we will fight change. If our survival is in danger, we will fight for change. Make sure the character motivations make sense.
My writing question (if it hasn’t been done already) is how to avoid middle of the story slumps? I have a story I’ve been writing, and I have the basic plot planned out. I’ve got the beginning of the story done, and I know where/how I’m going to end it, but the middle of my story just….flops. I can’t get it to flow into the ending I see. I’ve rewritten the beginning, and changed the ending, but no matter what I do, I can never get past the middle for some reason. This isn’t just limited to one story I have either, it happened with another too! Is there anything to prevent this?
A story is a logical chain of events. Your logic faltered somewhere. I can’t really tell you specifically where, but if you want, write a brief – one to two pages – outline, keeping it very simple and we will look at it. Be warned, if it’s a mess, we will tell you it’s a mess, so make sure you can handle the risk.
Do you love the grind every single day? Or, do you get writer’s block sometimes? If yes, how do you deal with it? If no, does having the occasional writer’s block mean that one shouldn’t be a writer and look for some other purpose in life?
Yes and no. Writer block usually happens for three reasons.
First, the story isn’t working and you are trying to force it to work. Deep inside you know it’s not working and you are resisting. Writing, like most creative endeavors come from a place of play.
Second, your emotional state is in sharp conflict with the story. If your relative is in ICU, you are not likely to be in the mood to write a hot sex scene. We are human beings.
Third, you are just too damn tired.
Having occasional writer’s block doesn’t mean you should stop writing. It may mean you might want to take the second look at a story you are writing.
Here, read this article. It will make you feel better. When I read about him spending years on a 3 page prologue, I called Jeaniene Frost, read it out loud to her, and then we both laughed hysterically for several minutes. This is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever read.
As someone who loves reading fantasy, I always wonder how do authors keep from self-censorship? I have tried writing, but I always think that what I’m writing is too silly and give up.
Give yourself permission to write crap. Just tell yourself, “Today I am going to write utter crap and I will enjoy myself.” And go for it.
Your editor is getting in the way. You can’t edit and write at the same time. Focus on enjoying the writing itself. Doesn’t mater if it’s silly, unpublishable, been done before, etc. Just write cool stuff to amuse yourself. And don’t look back until you are done.