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Storytelling and Writing Craft > What's the toughest story problem you ever solved and how did you do it?

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message 1: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan What's the toughest story or writing problem you ever solved and how did you do it?

Any stories from the coalface? Did your characters end up in a bind and your shaking your head thinking, 'How am I going to get them out of this?'

Was it early in the process when you were thrashing out an idea, or late in the game as you pulled everything together for a powerful ending? Or, somewhere in the middle?

Please share your experiences.


message 2: by Rita (new)

Rita Chapman | 152 comments The toughest problem was when I decided to write my first book and I had to decide what to write about! It wasn't an assignment - I could write about whatever I liked. But what would I write about? In the end I followed the 'write about what you know' guideline and based my story in Egypt, which I had recently visited.


message 3: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan Hi Rita, 'overwhelmed with possibility,' huh? I get that too. With your story, did you go with ancient or modern Egypt?


message 4: by Ian (new)

Ian Bott (iansbott) | 211 comments I think the toughest problem I face is a recurring problem that's inherent in my writing process.

Ideas for plots - twists, problems faced and solved - don't come naturally to me, so it's a constant struggle. Also I tend to leap ahead and write later scenes, knowing they fit into the overall outline but not yet knowing how to bridge the gap between earlier and later scenes. I usually have a general idea, but not the details. Filling in those gaps takes time and the occasional inspiration :)


message 5: by J.M. (new)

J.M. Rankin (jmrankin) | 2 comments So far I think it has to be the back story in my latest novel that covered intricate relationships going back centuries and how they all intertwined, including betrayals and blackmail that linked into the situation in the present. It gave me many headaches as I tried to work into what I knew already took place in the present, but after countless hours and cups of coffee I think I'm finally there!


message 6: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 9516 comments I have had two significant problems. My novels form a sort of future history, and they are not written in order, so I have to be careful not to contradict something that happened before.

The other problem came with the Scaevola series. This comes in a series and starts off with Scaevola receiving a prophecy that will direct his future efforts. The prophecy comes from the future, so the future knows what happened, except that when Scaevola does something he did not on the old timeline, the future does NOT know what will happen. To get around that, there were a sequence of prophecies (only referred to as existing) but they had to be delivered over a period of a bit over an hour, and so the prophecy had to limit itself to sufficient that would get Scaevola through everything. The problem then is how to get the very necessary information regarding what MUST be done into about 5 minutes? The sequence was to allow corrections for what went wrong last time. The story only follows the last prophecy, and as to why something small could not derail it, the future protagonists knew it could, but they had to hope all would be right. I hope I got it reasonably OK.


message 7: by Rita (new)

Rita Chapman | 152 comments Graeme wrote: "Hi Rita, 'overwhelmed with possibility,' huh? I get that too. With your story, did you go with ancient or modern Egypt?"

Yes, Graeme, exactly. It was set in modern Egypt - a perfect place to set a mystery, with new tombs still being discovered.


message 8: by Matthew (new)

Matthew Williams (houseofwilliams) I got to go with Ian on this. I've always struggled with consistency issues. When writing a series, you have to make sure your narrative fits with everything you've established so far. The longer the series gets, the more things you have to take into account. I've experienced this twice now while attempting to write a third installment. It was kind of stifling, trying to draw the threads of the story out further while making sure they didn't contradict anything from before.


message 9: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan Matthew wrote: "I got to go with Ian on this. I've always struggled with consistency issues. When writing a series, you have to make sure your narrative fits with everything you've established so far. The longer t..."

This is a tough problem. I have this all the time. Perhaps the solution comes with experience. .... but, I do a lot of story planning.


message 10: by Matthew (last edited Feb 24, 2019 10:27PM) (new)

Matthew Williams (houseofwilliams) Graeme wrote: "Matthew wrote: "I got to go with Ian on this. I've always struggled with consistency issues. When writing a series, you have to make sure your narrative fits with everything you've established so f..."

I certainly hope so. I'm into Part II of my third novel now, and things seem to be coming together. I'm thinking it's not insurmountable, just a difficulty that's not too fun.


message 11: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 9516 comments I think the key to bringing things together is to try to make sure they are not too far apart. Either have something in common that will bring them together, or add something else that forces them together. Of course it helps if you have some idea what the unifying principle is while writing the early parts.

My current problem in what I am writing is I have hinted at a dark antagonist that has to be dealt with, I have introduced more clues as to what it is, but I still have to bring the MC to the key place. I want to try to avoid a lucky guess but DA has made a good job of killing off just about everyone who MC suspects could be associated with him. It is something I am sure I shall work out - the problem is not so much to do it, but to do it in a way that maintains the tension.


message 12: by Philip (new)

Philip (phenweb) I have had the bridge to subsequent scene issue. In the third part of my Demise thriller series I had written a specific piece of action that I liked, not perfect but I wanted it in. I then had to get the characters to that scene. I'd already had the consistency issue even in the first part where I had to rewrite one whole chapter because I messed up in a later chapter.

I have a sequel as WIP for another book. There is mention of a major incident without description in the first book. It skipped over the how and who and just showed the outcome. Now in the sequel I feel I cannot ignore it. I have to explain and I have no idea how to make it realistic. Maybe I can use the Dallas - Bobby Ewing it's all a dream route but I don't think that will work.


message 13: by C.C.Webb (last edited Feb 24, 2019 11:33AM) (new)

C.C.Webb | 11 comments I've had a lot of ups and downs trying to piece my novel together because there's so much going on, so many characters that are all interconnected and that span across different timelines. I'm learning slowly but it's been a challenge, that's for sure.

I've also realized recently that if I'm going to write from a teenage POV I really can't successfully or believably do it in 2018-2019. I'm too old I guess haha.


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