Brain Lock

Yes, I’ve been gone for a while. But, as the title of this post suggests, I’ve had a (sorta) reason: brain lock.

Brain lock is a disease a lot of writers suffer through occasionally. It’s disconcerting, to say the least, though I think I knows what’s caused mine: I’ve been concentrating on getting my synopsis done so much that it’s crowded everything else out. My brain is only capable of holding so much at once. Well, that kind of thing happens.

As I believe I’ve posted previously, my long synopsis came out at around nine pages. That’s at least a page too long, and I have yet to get up the courage to go back in and edit it. Instead, I took a few days off from that mess and then dove into another one: the two-page synopsis.

Forget waterboarding.

Every try to reduce 100,000 words down to two pages? It’s not easy. It’s like I had to take practically everything I did in that novel and throw it out, screen it down to the ugly bare bones. None of the nuance, none of the “show don’t tell” stuff, nothing that makes it more than a dry, boring basic telling of the story.

Oh, wait. I guess that’s what a synopsis is.

Well, I still don’t like it. And now I understand from experience why other authors don’t either. This is the ugly side of the writing business. Or, maybe to be more precise, it’s the business side of writing, and it ain’t pretty. Or fun. It’s one thing to plunge into a new novel and wonder if you can finish writing it and, if you do finish it, if it’ll be worth the effort. At least there’s an element of excitement there, the sense of skirting the edge of failure to keep yo churning out the words and see if your idea will pan out. This is the creative side, where you build the beast.

And then you come to the point where you want to submit the beast and you find you have to all but kill it. Apparently, editor and agents are afraid of wild, unpublished novels and want you to tame the darn thing down before you expose them to it. So you have to take all the spirit out of it and let them read it as a sound bite. Isn’t modern technology wonderful (see my post about how modern tech is changing the way we write)?

Doing it gave me brain lock.

It happens to the best of us. Case in point: in his book On Writing, Stephen King relates how he got brain lock of a sort while writing The Stand. He’d written himself into a corner, and it took several weeks (I don’t remember how many, exactly) to find his way out of it. He says he thought about just chucking the whole thing, except that he was like 500+ pages in and he couldn’t see getting rid of it when he had that much into it. He says the solution came as an epiphany of sorts one day while out walking when he realized that, literally, he needed an explosion to get the story going again. His characters were settled into place, busy re-inventing the world that had so recently been changed, and bringing back a lot of the attendant problems to boot. So, he had one of the characters plant a bomb in a closet, one of the main characters dies, and the world is shaken up once more. No more comfort zone.

I figure if it can happen to him, I don’t need to feel so bad, seeing as how I’m not quite the writer he is.

So that’s where I’ve been: in brain lock. Haven’t been able to write a word. Had several going through my mind, though. Won’t publish them here. I hope I can break this thing, though, cause I want to write, not just wish I was. Of course, now I have to do a query letter, so who knows what that’ll do to my poor brain.

Wish me luck.

Later,

Gil

PS I’ve reposted my story “Crosstown Traffic” after it’s been through the wringer at my writing group and had a friend read it as well. See if you can spot the differences.

2 Comments

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2 responses to “Brain Lock

  1. Well, at least you got the first draft done. That’s something.
    If you really want to get an idea of how to write a good query, look up Query Shark. It’s an invaluable resource.

    • Yeah, I know about QueryShark. Been reviewing it the last few days. It’s kinda daunting to have to read all the posts, but if it’ll help I’m sure it’ll be worth it. Wish I could find the same kind of thing for a synopsis lol.

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