Thursday, April 29, 2010

Once More, with Feeling

I'm rerunning a post from December today. Why? I'm not one of those organized blog writers who writes their posts hours (or days) in advance, I'm one of those 'stare at the screen until something comes to you' blog writers. Today, life is getting in the way of staring at the screen; hence this particular rerun. With luck, I'll be back tomorrow.

Malevolent Mud Makers

Observe the merry writer making her way down the forest path. Her pace is steady, her face wreathed with smiles. She has no idea she is being watched by a malevolent mud maker. But she is. They strike without warning. Without mercy. Slurp! Another writer stuck in the mud.

What is the mud? For me, mud is when I can't seem to move forward. Something is wrong. It could be a character. It could be a plot. It could be a combination of the two. Getting stuck means it's time to reevaluate and plan my way out; since the only other option is being stuck and never moving on. How do I accomplish this?

Characters: Every writer has to know their characters. You have to see the world through their eyes and feel their hearts quicken. You must walk in their shoes, have their memories and their expectations. You know their fondest desires and their deepest fears. Mud can occur when you've forgotten this and you've written your character incorrectly. It's easy to do, one can get so caught up in plot that characters become puppets instead of people. Go back to a point in your manuscript which is mud-free and see where the mud begins. Has a character become a puppet?

Plot: Every writer juggles several plots during the writing of a book. There's the main story line, of course. But there are countless other subplots weaving their way through the story, each with its own agenda and its own purpose. Malevolent mud makers appear when one of these plots go astray. The timeline could be awry. The plot goes in a circle instead of in a line. Worst of all is the realization there's no reason for the plot. Malevolent mud makers love plots that don't accomplish anything. Take a harsh look at your manuscript. Are you harboring a plot that is simply taking up space for the sake of taking up space? You've got mud, my friend.

Beware of malevolent mud makers as you continue down your path. Ignore them at your peril. Avoiding them is preferable, but even the best of us can be taken in by their wiles. If you do look down and see mud on your boots, know there is always a way out. It may be a quick fix, it may take time. But you will be mud-free and able to move ahead.

Have you encountered the malevolent mud makers? How did you get unstuck?


  1. I blog the same way you do. No prep. No organization. I like to think of it as spontaneous :)

    Hope your life is back to normal soon.

  2. Hmm, interesting, I like the term malevolent mud makers, just don't try saying it 10 times really fast. I just ran across another one the other day. I was so upset I had to post about it. Twice.

  3. Interesting way to make the point, Elspeth. I'm glad you pulled this one out for a rerun. Maybe mud is why I'm stuck on one of my projects. I'll have to take another look with your points in mind.

  4. Hope life smooths out for you. Planning post doesn't always work no matter had hard you try.

    Thoughts in Progress

  5. This was a good post to rerun. In the beginning I tend to get stuck in the plot-mud. Then during revisions it's the character-mud.

  6. Elspeth - Thanks for reminding me of the mud-makers. It's always good to think of ways to yank your shoes out of the mud... I'm very glad you re-ran this.

    And if it's any consolation, life happens to us all....


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