Thursday, February 02, 2012

Keeping On Track

It gets terribly loud inside my brain sometimes. I’ve got two series’ worth of characters, one of which seems to have a cast of thousands, running around up there, clamoring to be heard. And sometimes, those characters get pushy. I know writers who control everything in their worlds they write, but it confounds me that they can do that. My characters take on a life of their own—to the point of where I’ll find myself arguing with them over certain points. I hate to admit it, but usually they’re right.

When I’m writing, if I get stuck, it’s usually because I’ve taken a wrong turn. Either I’ve tried to force the characters into a scene that doesn’t fit them or the story, or I haven’t listened to my instinct on the storyline itself. Since I’m an organic writer—I don’t plot in advance, except for the highlights of the book—I really have to listen to the story and characters as I write to ensure that everything works out right in the end.

With the Indigo Court Series, my special challenges in writing are that the series reads and unfolds almost like it takes place in a dream-state. Magic and mysticism are inherent to the series, and everything in the world is magical in one way or another. I feel my way through, like I’m following a trail of breadcrumbs through the snow, much like my characters are trying to push through the horrible magical winter that Myst, the Queen of the Indigo Court, has brought to the world. And balancing Cicely’s love for Grieve, the Fae Prince, with her irresistible pull toward the hedonistic vampire Lannan is like walking a tightrope. The series is finite—it will end at five books—and I can see the end, but I’m still not sure how I’m going to get there.

And with my Otherworld Series—which is on its eleventh book and has quite a ways to go—my special challenges in writing are that by now, the world has grown large, and the cast larger. So balancing each book’s cast list is a delicate matter. It helps that there are three main characters—Camille, Menolly, and Delilah D’Artigo, who are half-human, half-Fae. The books round robin through their POVs, so each sister has her own posse of friends, lovers, while the others play supporting roles when it’s her turn at the helm. This keeps the writing, the world, and the characters, fresh for me.

When people ask me what I do for writer’s block, the only thing I can tell them is that I don’t get writer’s block, because on contract, I can’t afford to get writer’s block. However, if I do get stuck for a little while, I go back to the last place it was working and look for where the story got off track. And I always find the place it went astray and then I fix it. Because the story is what matters.

So, what do you do when you find yourself stuck, whether it be writing a scene, or figuring out what to have for dinner? How do you make decisions?

New York Times, USA Today, and Publisher’s Weekly bestselling author Yasmine Galenorn writes urban fantasy for Berkley: both the Otherworld/Sisters of the Moon Series for Berkley and the Indigo Court urban fantasy series.  In the past, she wrote mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime, and nonfiction metaphysical books. 
Yasmine has been in the Craft for over 30 years, is a shamanic witch, and describes her life as a blend of teacups and tattoos.  She lives in Kirkland WA with her husband Samwise and their cats.  Yasmine can be reached via her website at


Debby said...

I have noit read one of her books in while. thanks for bringing her back to me
debby236 at gmail dot com

marybelle said...

When I'm stuck I tend to think out loud & seek other opinions. I often don't even need an answer from anyone. I'm thinking family now who just let me rabbit on.

Karen said...

When I get really stuck, I have to step away for a few minutes. Sometimes, when I go back to that stubborn WIP, I can jump right back in, or, start working on a different section. But distracting myself and giving my mind a break tends to work.

Linda Gail Walters said...

I've been stuck for a while on the paranormal novel that I'm currently writing, so I am all too familiar with the feeling. This is really the longest time that I've felt stuck. Since I'm not on contract, I had the luxury of just putting it aside for a while and writing other things. I'm finishing up a sci-fi short story that has been rolling around in my head for a while and I'm also taking a screenwriting class at UCSD Extension. After finishing a draft of the short story and getting a few short script scene assignments done, I can feel the ice starting break away from the paranormal novel and I actually got something done on it this morning.

Linda Henderson said...

When I'm stuck on anything I usually just leave it for a while and go do something else to take my mind off it. The next thing you know, I know what I want to do.

Dina said...

I've been there and if I can't decide on dinner, sometimes just eat cereal, lol