The Disorganized Muse


I’ll be out of reach when this goes live, so I’ll ask my fellow Mad Geniuses to add helpful suggestions and answer questions.
In an orderly Universe the ideas for stories in a series would come sequentially, in proper order.

Unfortunately, Chaos rules this Universe, and is concentrated in my subconscious, where my Muse usually resides.

So, how does one deal with a minimum of three ideas (a new one pops up every time I get to a scene I don’t want to write, but really need to) at once? Well, since hitting your desk with your head has never worked (for me, give it a try if you want) I generally try to force some degree of order to the tangle of my imagination.

First, I tell my subconscious that this is just a brief, refreshing break, to write down the new idea so it will not get lost. Also, I remind myself to give the file a very obvious name, so I can find it again without an hour long search.

Then I get back to what I ought to be writing.

Still not up to battling Alien invaders all through the streets of Paris? Then put in a /// Battle of Paris /// marker and get on with the next scene.

Right. So you write the rest of the story, a good finish, the heroes rewarded . . . and the Battle of Paris still looms.

And sometimes the words still won’t come.

Sometimes you can ignore it, write something else, and the Battle of Paris will interrupt _that_ story. Effing Muse!

And sometimes you have to grit your teeth and just do it.

This, I regret to say, is where I have to outline.

I. An Explosion! From Character A’s POV
.  A. Located in the western suburbs
.     1. Character B is near enough to go check it out.
.     2. Identifies attackers, notifies A
.          a. Car wreck, people running away
.          b. Climbs on wreck to see why
.          c. Tank coming down the street, crunching cars as it comes toward him
.     3. Goes and kicks Alien butt
.     4. Fights to the portal and closes it

I’d also break down 3 and 4 into baby steps.

First he does this, then they do that. Bang! A friend has arrived with weaponry. Then this, then that.

Just cold, hard, logical actions and reactions.

Then I start writing, inside the outline, replacing the outline as I write it out. Put in the emotions, the running, hitting, shooting, the sweat, the blood, the bruises, the exhaustion, the determination.

I really hate to admit it, but this actually produces (for me) a better action scene than just winging it. Perhaps the logical side of my brain has a use in writing after all! Ha! Take that, Muse!

And yes, I am currently outlining the Battle of Paris, no, it won’t be published anytime soon. Because the Muse wanted it written, even though it can’t happen for several year in the series. Yeah, the Muse wins. As usual.

So, that’s my solution. All writers please chime in for how you deal with “The Scene that Won’t.”


And the usual self promo:

cute woman with red hair and fashion make up with green eyes

8 thoughts on “The Disorganized Muse

  1. What you’re doing there is much better than what I do. ~:D I just go back over the last chapter and try to discover what comes next. Or go walk the dog, that works too.

    1. Unsaved text files.

      I collect bits and pieces, somewhat organize them into text files, at times save them and get them out of my hair.

      If interest in a configuration persists, I may call it a potential project. If I can figure out all the necessary elements, it may graduate to the project I am currently working on.

      I’ve had enough failures of pantsing, and successes of outlining, that I know I have to outline. Currently I’m in the middle of trying to plot a mess. Which I worked out the defining features of while very ill. I haven’t been able to make myself redefine it to something sane and achievable at my current skill level. So, I have notes across many files, four or five programs, and two computers. Plus the confusion of chasing after RL goals. Between skill level and ambition, I will botch it, but at least I will learn for the next project.

      1. I don’t bother writing the ideas down. The good ones will stick around, and those that don’t stay in my brain … well, with that multi volume Epic Fantasy Monster, three Roman historical fiction novels in various stages of progress and those persistant ideas about Alchemypunk with sentinent dinosaurs and that Neolithic / Bronze Age plotbunny, I got enough to keep me occupied the next dozen years. 🙂

        After all, I don’t make a living off it, nor do I inted to, so there’s no pressure to publish on a regular basis.

  2. My muse just pulled the cigar out of her mouth and said “Who are you calling disorganized you *BLEEP*! Why I Oughta *BLEEP BLEEP* you in the *BLEEP BLEEP BLEEP BLEEP*!”

    Yes, she has anger issues.

  3. “…every time I get to a scene I don’t want to write, but really need to)”

    If you don’t want to write it, why would we want to read it? I think there’s a correlation there…

    As to ideas, I put ALL of ’em in the obviously-named “!ideas.txt” with the leading bang mark to make it sort to the top of the list. (Tho this trick does not work consistently on linux, and probably not on mac either.)

  4. — All writers please chime in for how you deal with “The Scene that Won’t.” —

    “The Scene That Won’t” is of a piece with “The Event That Must” and “The Character(s) That Wouldn’t.” They must be charged with the quintessential ingredient that makes fiction worth reading: emotion.

    I had a scene to write that terrified me. Seriously: I was so convinced that I’d botch it that I took several weeks to get to it. It was required because without it I could not motivate the characters involved to undertake the novel’s climactic confrontation. I could write that scene — indeed, I already had — but this earlier one in story time had me paralyzed.

    The novel was being narrated in third person multiple. I had to find reasons to compel them to collide violently. I could contrive for one of them, the novel’s protagonist Christine, to be blindsided, but animating the other one, a biker named Rusty, was a problem. He had no substantial reason for confronting her.

    The solution required that I rewrite scenes that took place much earlier in the book, to arrange for Rusty to have the necessary motivation. It was difficult, because in my original conception of Rusty’s character he was not inclined toward the sort of act I forced upon him. I had to reimagine him, and resculpt a great part of his interactions with a biker lord (Tiny), to make it work. In essence, I arranged for Christine to be the reason Rusty’s lover had been killed – and I made Rusty blame Tiny for his death.

    Thus, getting that one scene to work right required significant revision of my conception of a Marquee character and equally significant revision of a large earlier portion of the novel. But without doing so I could not fuel Rusty with the rage required to get him to attack Christine on a busy street in broad daylight. Once Rusty had that rage, the required confrontation flowed naturally out of the context, as did Christine’s fury and resolution to do what followed.

    Regardless of genre, emotion is everything in worthwhile fiction. Rocket ships, ray guns, magic, and monsters are all very well, but above all else your Marquee characters must be motivated to do what you need done, and their motivations must strike the reader as both plausible and sufficient. It’s vital that the proponents of Sarah Hoyt’s Human Wave and the associated Pulp Revival movement keep that in mind.

  5. The Scene That Won’t generally gets a day or two on the back burner, though that’s dangerous because you have to get into the habit of circling back.

    What do I do with three ideas? Introduce them to each other! Well, not always. But I’ve found that many of my ideas can work in stories together and in fact a stand-alone idea may not be enough to support a story. (Much depends on what the “idea” is.)

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