Up the Writing Creek with a Dissolving Paddle

Will you all hate me if I have nothing original to say today? My butt’s getting kicked by a scene that’s got a start and an ending, but a middle that’s completely uncrossable. (In this metaphor, the scene is a river. Normally one that looks like this):

Fly Fishing

There’s a dry place to begin, a dry place to land, and at least the promise of a way to navigate to the far bank without the need for bandages or a Tetanus shot.

But this scene feels more like the following image:

View of rapids breaking over large rocks

I know where I’m starting, I know where I’m ending, but the middle’s unpredictable; and the consequences of not getting it right, potentially grim.

Any advice for how to get through?

I know I might build a bridge and bypass this journey altogether for a while, but I don’t seem to be built that way. (What I call hopscotch or mosaic writing.) I think that I’m a character-driven writer. (At least that’s what I’d like to believe that I am.)  If I build a bridge I’m afraid it would end on the wrong part of the river. Then where would I be?

Any and all comments appreciated.

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15 Replies to “Up the Writing Creek with a Dissolving Paddle”

  1. No advice, only consolation from me. I’ve been having the same trouble with my novella. I’ve written less than 1000 words in the last three days, not because I don’t know what needs to be written, just because I can’t seem to get the words out.

    *hug* Here’s hoping the evil word-stealing fairies get smashed by the hammer of inspiration soon!

  2. Oi, Missy, I answered you on AW but I’lll say it here too.
    Don’t beat yourself up over this. Just write your way across the river. It may start off as a few dodgy planks, but you can go back and make it better later. Just GET ACROSS THE WATER. Remember, the first draft is only the first charge in the battle. We’re allowed to write utter tosh, it’s the ability to go back and sort it out later that makes it all shiny and nice.


  3. I start with an outline, but even then I sometimes get stuck. I try to write everyday, even if it’s a tiny bit, until this passes. Eventually I experience a eureka moment. A difficult scene, as depicted in your pic, all of a sudden seems easy and surmountable.

  4. What Sue said. Head down and push forward. It’ll come.

    Conversely, make sure the scene is what it is – that you need it and this isn’t your subconscious’s way of alerting you to a wrong turn earlier. You might not need to cross the river at all if that’s the case.

  5. I feel you. I don’t have much good advice, but looks like you’re getting it from others.

    ****hug**** I can offer that though, Tartie!

  6. I’m with Sue and Laura 🙂 I have no other advice but I do have a guarantee – when you do find the inner oomph to cross that river, it will be with all the grace and strength and polish I know you have. Keep plugging, hon. <3

  7. Would it help to go back and re-read your interview with Laura Kinsale? Her point in that interview about not writing when it wasn’t working really helped me. It gave me permission not to worry about it, which is very liberating.

    The other thing that I have found to be helpful is to start an project around the house. Something like cleaning out my bedroom closet. The minute the *entire* contents are out and the mess is at its peak, my muse goes apoplectic and starts coming up with all kinds of ideas, LOL!

  8. Totally agree with Sue. Just give yourself permission to have round one be sorta sloppy and make your way across. The rewrite is to give it some elegance.

    I’ve been here, though on a more collossal level recently… the whole BOOK… got a beggining… can see the ending… and the blasted middle what evading. I hate middles.

    But you know what? When it finally comes together, it will be deeply satisfying. Somewhere 3 chapters down the road it will come to you what you forgot to do here, and then it will be a GORGEOUS bridge.

  9. You are all very good to me. Thank you. I am truly humbled by your support in a blatant moment of “poor me”.

    Bookewyrme, may you find your hammer of inspiration soon.

    Sue, *whine* but I’m so good at the self-flagellation… Thanks for the vote of confidence, missus. It means a lot. If you begin by writing crap and can turn it into your beautiful prose, I have a prayer.

    Medeia, I couldn’t push through on this WIP today, but I did tackle something else that allowed me to reclaim a sense of competence as a writer. Thank you for your words of hope!

    Jess, that’s what it feels like; that my goal might be wrong. Thanks for that perspective.

    Jaekaebee, thanks for the hug! Especially from so far across the world. 🙂

    Laura, ha! You always make me laugh. Thank you, my looney friend (who I know will understood the title “looney” was bestowed with great affection).

    Dawn, it’s great to have you in my corner, especially when you’re the one not getting pages. Oh, wait–maybe that’s a good thing for you. 😉

    Glinda, you are right. That interview dulled my panic. Maybe that’s why I had a good week last week…? Hmmm. Methinks it’s a time for a re-read. And is your muse related to mine? (Except mine loves sleep, not closets.)

    Hart, you are absolutely right. When I finish, this book will contain the Millau Bridge of bridges. Thank you for extending my metaphor in an inspiring way, and good luck to you in your own muddy middle.


    Again, thank you all. I find myself speechless with gratitude.

    Or maybe that’s just gas. 😉

  10. did you guys catch the Bud commercial where they built a bridge of people to get the poor stuck delivery truck across the chasm???
    here ’tis

    a bridge of people. . . .hmmm…
    I’m so sick of polishing and re-reading my now finished WIP (i love all these cute acronyms) I’ve been breaking for a contest entering frenzy. In my particular genre it’s important to stay away from the Penthouse Utter Garbage Sites and find the Real Thing and I think I hit the jackpot early this morning after I finished an entire anthology edited by Violet Blue. I know many of you ladies are not interested but these were some seriously well written and hot short stories–with all emphasis on the female perspective and satisfactory happy endings. The one at the Apple Store Genius Bar? wow.
    good luck bridge building T.
    The (very cold because my furnace is out) Wench

  11. I agree with Sue, Laura and Dawn.

    I know which scene you are talking about, and I’m trying to visualize the conversation.
    I’ll send you an idea in your inbox.

  12. Wench, oy, sorry to hear about your furnace. We went through that a few months ago.

    I loved the commercial. 🙂 Hey, and good luck with the contests. I hope you get useful feedback.

    Donna, you are a sweetie! Thank you. Message received and we’ll talk tonight.

    Kathleen, you’re right that part of this is I have to be more willing to fling myself into the abyss, just try stuff more. I have had a go at this scene — and I’m not exaggerating — probably eighty or more times.

    It’s too early to tell, but what seems to have finally helped is a letter I wrote to my character, in which I asked her questions. More later, when I know for sure.

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