Writer’s Cliff

Okay no more procrastination.   The truth is, I have writer’s cliff.   For those of you who’ve heard me talk about this, it’s what other people call “writer’s block,” but I insist on calling it writer’s cliff because I’m not stuck behind a wall.  I can see where I’m going.  I know I have to get to the the next key moment of my story, I just don’t know how to get there.  Somehow I must build a bridge over the cliff.  This always takes great effort.  Sometimes I’m up for the effort, sometimes I’m not.  Sometimes I’m like a government contractor, building as little as possible, while standing around and looking at all the bridge building that’s not getting done.  Speaking of which,  I have to tell this story. It’s a total digression, but then, what isn’t?   My son just graduated from high school.   When he was a sophomore they began building a parking structure that was supposed to be done over the summer.  Three years later, it’s still not done.  What’s even worse is that they ripped out the school’s existing parking lot to do it, so now the students have nowhere to park.  My son had to arrive at school an hour early each day, or he would have to park more than a mile away.    Now here’s the punch line:   The parking structure  will be ready… Right around the time the state of California raises the legal driving age , thereby making a  high school parking structure completely pointless!  No wonder the state of California is going broke with such poor planning!

But back to writer’s cliff.   How does one build the bridge across it?   What materials does one use?  And what if you’re too darn lazy to build it?    Well if you’re lazy, I can’t help you. Not that I don’t get lazy.  When I get stuck in a story, I procrastinate.  I write on my blog.  I call friends and complain about all the work I’m not getting done.   But eventually that gets old.  I know the story’s in my head somewhere, as are the solutions to whatever problem is giving me the block.  Right now the block is this:  I’m toward the beginning of a project, (won’t say which one), and there are just too many characters to introduce early on.  If I don’t introduce them, the story can’t move forward, but if I take the time to introduce them, the story takes too long to get started.  So what’s the solution?  Maybe cut out a character or two? Or combine them?  Maybe there are characters I don’t need to introduce until much later?  Maybe I can kill off the Mom.  That always works for Disney.  You think it’s an accident that Disney characters always have dead Mothers?  No!  It’s because there’s too many darn characters.  Get rid of Mom,  and that’s one less character to deal with.     Maybe I can introduce all the main characters friends at once, instead of one at a time.   The problem is, this story is so worked out, pull out a single threat and it unravels.  I know I’ll get it figured out eventually, and build that bridge over writer’s cliff.  So when do you find that you have the worst writer’s cliff?  Is it at the beginning, middle or end of a story?


7 Responses to “Writer’s Cliff”

  1. Monica Ropal Says:

    Beginnings are the worst. I workshopped the beginning of my completed ms with you in Dec., and I love it! But still getting comments of too many characters. It’s a party, how are there not going to be a lot of characters?
    Now, in my most recent wip: I tell myself that I will rework the beginning later and to just get to it,but it bothers me that the beginning is so flawed and i want to keep going back and change things.
    In general, when I get stuck, I do what I did last night. Go back to my muses. Usually music or some vid i saw somewhere that puts me in that place when I first started thinking about the character or situation. then I write. Maybe a lot, maybe a little, but enough to remind myself that I still can. The beginning WILL get fixed eventually, but I need to press on.
    Probably not helpful to you in the least, but just my two cents.
    Good luck.

  2. Lindsey Morris Says:

    Have you considered writing a prologue that is suspensful yet vague? Perhaps you could give us just enough in the beginning to know that the characters will play a huge role in the novel?? Then we will be dying to know when you plan to introduce them and how everything will pan out!

  3. Lindsey Morris Says:

    Oh…and the worst for me (not that I’ve ever published a novel–but I hope to eventually!) is definitely in the middle!! It seems like I always know what I want to achieve in my writing, but the “getting there” part is MUCH more difficult–especially when you’re trying to make a non-existent world seem completely real. The daily grind, the dialogue, the time-frame…it all has to fit perfectly or it simply doesn’t work–and let’s face it; every scene can’t be a climactic one.

  4. Kara Says:

    Heyy…i love your books! i would have to say i get “writer’s cliff” (which i am going to use from now on!) always comes at the beginning of a project. i get an idea and i know exactly what i want to do, or i get a great burst of inspiration that gives me a good couple of sentences, and i get really excited and i feel AMAZING about it, but then i realize i have no way to go with it. i have no other ideas that what i just wrote down, and where i hope to eventually end the story.

  5. Brandon Says:

    The strange thing is for me is that sometimes i get the opposite of “writers cliff” and i just cant think of a plausible ending so i just continue the story more and more until its ridiculously long.

    Anyway love the books Neal keep ’em coming!

  6. Roberta Niche Says:

    Love the blog. Still hoping to work out getting you to Melissa HS in Melissa Texas this spring. 🙂

  7. Terry Black Says:

    I’m fascinated by all those dead Disney mothers you mention, Neal. Maybe they could all band together to form the Dead Disney Mothers Society, or DDMS, where they carp in the afterlife about their offspring never pray to them anymore.

    Anyone who wants this idea can have it. No, don’t thank me.

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