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Does anyone every get worried when they finish a book or series that they will never be able to develop another idea?

 

I am part way plotting book 3 of a series and it is proving very challenging. I have the beginning and some called a end but trying to get the necessary suspense steps/incidences bridging them and weaving the sub-plot is not happening. 

 

Yes, I have taken a break from it and it still not happening.

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No, I've never experienced writer's block, but don't worry about it.  Part of the problem (I would say most of it) is just worrying about your writing--will you ever be able to write anything worthwhile again.  Trust me though, you will write again and it will be glorious.

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5 minutes ago, Shamrock said:

Does anyone every get worried when they finish a book or series that they will never be able to develop another idea?


No, but that's a 'beyond the highlights' question. Just because I can't see it now doesn't mean I won't be able to see it when I need to. 

 

6 minutes ago, Shamrock said:

I have the beginning and some called a end but trying to get the necessary suspense steps/incidences bridging them and weaving the sub-plot is not happening. 


This is when I'd break out Story Grid theory (everyone rolls their eyes, heh) and mention that if you identify your core Content Genre up front, it can do much of the heavy lifting for what comes in your Middle Build (I've taken to dividing my MB in half with the all-is-lost moment serving as the fulcrum between MB1 and MB2). 

For instance, if I was writing a Worldview story, I'd check to make sure I had all the Conventions and Obligatory Moments for the that kind of story.
https://storygrid.com/secrets-worldview-genre/

I attended a plotting seminar a year ago and worked on the beats for the sequel to THE BLUE GOLEM. As the first book is a Fantasy / Noir on a Thriller, I assumed I'd be working in the same genre for #2. However, as the book is about the mob families who run the city and the Global Value shift is from Tyranny to Justice, I realized the genre is actually Crime. This was great news because I could look up the components to a Crime story and make sure my beats represented all those Conventions and Obligatory Moments. I had some and was missing others, especially in the middle. I plugged those in and viola!, my plot beats fell into place. By the end of three very intense days, I had 20 main plot beats which included the appropriate elements for a Crime novel, and added 10 more subplot beats, a first for this series.
https://storygrid.com/crime-genre/

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19 minutes ago, Shamrock said:

My book genre is suspense. Does Story Grid have a crib sheet for that?

Yes, but let's take a quick tangent into how the Story Grid defines Suspense. SG defines 'Suspense' as a kind of Narrative Drive as opposed to a genre. 

Quote

Narrative drive is that quality that keeps readers riveted. It is the lightening in a bottle that creates great fortunes. 

The form of Narrative Drive—its component parts—is mystery, suspense, and dramatic irony.
 

It’s all about information. Choosing how much of it to reveal and when.

...how a writer dispenses information to generate Narrative Drive. A story has three possible informational scenarios. I call them LESS, SAME, and MORE.

  • LESS is when the storyteller gives the reader less information than the characters in the story have. The “LESS” scenario generates mystery.
  • SAME is when the reader and the characters in the story discover the same things at the same time. The “SAME” generates suspense.
  • MORE is when the reader knows more than the characters. And the “MORE” generates dramatic irony.

https://storygrid.com/narrative-drive/

As I read it, any of the SG genres can use Suspense to create Narrative Drive, whether that's Love or Society or Action or what-have-you. Shawn Coyne defines what makes for the Suspense form of Narrative Drive like this:

Quote

Suspense requires the SAME information, sharing the same information with the reader as it comes to light to a character. The storyteller places the reader, like a parrot on the shoulder of a pirate, in the exact position as the character.

For example:

In a War Story, the reader always follows the protagonist into a combat zone. We, like the soldier, don’t know if there is a sniper with a bead on us or even if one of our own fellow warriors behind us is fully capable of covering our back.

We move into a building to clear it and we see rubble on the left and a passageway on the right. Should we move over the rubble where there may be an enemy soldier taking cover behind it? Or do we go down the passageway where other enemies could be lurking behind closed doors? Do we send in another soldier ahead of us?

All of these possibilities sit right in front of the protagonist and the reader at the same time, which binds the reader to the character. It’s as if the reader becomes the character. This anxiety created by the numerous choices that the protagonist faces puts the reader in the protagonist’s shoes. We empathize and become suspended in the action.

In this case concern about what will happen creates narrative drive. We need to know because the storyteller has put us inside the “body” of the lead character.

Remember that readers have seen/read/experienced so many stories in their lives that they inevitably start to answer all of the questions raised in a scenario way before you as the storyteller answer them.

This is one highly intelligent invisible parrot on the shoulder of your protagonist. Polly is capable of running the risk scenarios faster than you can lay them before him. Rubble on the left, clear passage to the right, allies behind except maybe that guy the protagonist just had a fight with back at the FOB…the best decision would be to…

Setting up the suspense with multiple choices and outcomes is only the first part of creating narrative drive.  The second part is that you must convincingly “zag” after the reader is convinced that the story will “zig.” If you don’t, the reader will figure out what is going to happen in ten seconds. When what they expect happens, they’ll throw your book across the room…never to pick it up again.

What to do? Perhaps you use the genre and setting of the story to surprise the reader. Very early on in the war story you could have the protagonist or one of his mentors offhandedly refer to IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices). So as we walk point with the protagonist, you use this critical piece of information set up from earlier on in the book and pay it off on this patrol. Here’s how.

The protagonist chooses to clear the room by himself, but before he can he turns to see one of his men walk over to an injured dog under a fallen beam to lend aid. Before our protagonist can warn his man not to get too close, the soldier touches the dog’s body which detonates an IED.

Because the reader believed that the danger would come from snipers or from enemies in front to the left or to the right, the fact that there was an unexpected threat that the reader had forgotten about from the very beginning of the book will realistically and convincingly shock them. That is, if you haven’t been ham-handed about dropping the IED clue earlier in the book.

You as the writer have been fair, unpredictable and invisible. Thus suspenseful Narrative Drive has been achieved.


So, to answer your question about which SG crib sheet to use, I'd start back at the top and define what your Content Genre is. (And just to reiterate, this isn't what you tell people you're writing, it's the underlying components which will help you know if you're providing what readers are expecting.)

https://storygrid.com/genres-of-writing/

This article defines the Content Genres and provides links to all the crib sheets at the bottom. I'd take a tool through and see if you recognize one which contains elements you already have and see if there are obvious elements which would help with your Middle Build.

  • Action Genre
  • Horror Genre
  • Crime Genre
  • Western Genre
  • Thriller Genre
  • War Genre
  • Society Genre
  • Love Genre
  • Performance Genre
  • Fantasy Genre
  • Internal Genre
  • Worldview Genre
  • Status Genre
  • Morality Genre

 

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As an example, I'm writing a Fantasy / Noir (Marketing Genre) which is built on a Thriller foundation. When my first chapter wasn't working, I looked at the Thriller conventions and saw I was missing something important, so I killed a guy (a likable, innocent guy, to boot) and my story fell into place. Furthermore, I learned that my entire Ending Payoff was heading towards an Action conclusion, and that was all wrong for the First Person / Noirish detective story I was telling in the rest of the work. So I scrapped the big final battle scene and went with something far more personal, my golem detective fighting the far more powerful Archmage mano-a-mano. This ending really pops, and it's because I did the work to find out what my novel was under-the-hood.

So if my first novel uses the Thriller content genre and the sequel is based on a Crime template, I'm really curious what the final novel will be. It may be a straight-up Action story for all I know. I'm not nervous about trying to figure out before I get there, because I'm confident I can figure it out when the time is right.

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3 hours ago, Shamrock said:

Does anyone every get worried when they finish a book or series that they will never be able to develop another idea?

Definitely! But I've always come up with more ideas despite the worries. Ideas are weird things. Sometimes they take time to form. Other times, they're just there. 😄

 

You'll get your plot for book 3!

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6 hours ago, Shamrock said:

Does anyone every get worried when they finish a book or series that they will never be able to develop another idea?

 

Yes, and it is always unfounded. Exhaustion or personal trials can impair creativity. It can be recovered through "repentance and rest". I say repentance because God made us. To deny that we can do marvelous things with what he has given us is ingratitude or unbelief, and I am no stranger to those! So remember the Great Storyteller who has written your story and you will remember that he is gracious to give all who come to him in humility.

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Are you plotting only or writing scenes? Sometimes I do not hit on a plot idea until I am the middle of writing a scene (often dialogue, incidentally).

 

Great advice up above me as well! 

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On ‎2‎/‎24‎/‎2021 at 11:26 AM, Shamrock said:

Does anyone every get worried when they finish a book or series that they will never be able to develop another idea?

 

I am part way plotting book 3 of a series and it is proving very challenging. I have the beginning and some called a end but trying to get the necessary suspense steps/incidences bridging them and weaving the sub-plot is not happening. 

 

Yes, I have taken a break from it and it still not happening.

No.

 

I consider all works to be like clay.  You start with something, then tease it, play with it, and eventually you find something in the clay.

 

That being said, it's hard to do that when you have a lot of external pressures on you.

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