Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Story Tantrums

Last night my son threw the craziest tantrum of his life (he's only 2, so you might thing this isn't saying much, but believe me, it is). For no particular reason he screamed, kicked and flailed for 30 minutes straight. It was ugly.

To make matters worse halfway through his tantrum it was bedtime, so I (foolishly) tried to get him into pajamas. He didn't want to put on pajamas.

Five minutes later, my arms bruised from his constant kicking, I handed my still un-pajamaed toddler to my husband. Using his magic daddy skills, he managed to coax the boy into jammies and bed--a small miracle.

Sometimes my story throws tantrums too. I just can't get it to do what I want it to do no matter how hard I try. I'll rewrite and rewrite again and still the scene won't be right.

That's when I have to make myself step away--spend some time on another part of the story (or even a different project). I come back when I've had a few days to think it over and I try again. Sometimes it works and sometimes I have to step back again (and again, and again).

When it's finally right it feels good to have faced the challenge and come out victorious.

Does your story throw tantrums sometimes?


29 comments:

Anissa said...

All the time! Wait, I'm talking about my story and not my kids, right? ;)

Like you, the best thing I can do is step away. No use forcing out something that isn't going to work anyway. I had that problem with my current rewrite. Just can't seem to get the ending right. The emotion just wasn't there. So I've started revising from the beginning, hoping to build momentum that will carry me through.

Great analogy. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the tantrums will stay on the page. Mama needs to keep her sanity. :)

L. T. Host said...

OH YEAH. Especially this one. It's a wily son of a gun.

Wow. I'm not looking forward to tantrums when I have kids, that's for sure.

Tabitha Bird said...

Yes, all the time. And sometimes I throw one with it.

Kristi Faith said...

My stories stomp, pout and run from the room sometimes too. And-just like kids, we step away and let them vent, wear themselves out and then try to intervene again. :)

Great post, quite intuitive :)

MattDel said...

So far I've lucked out in that my current WIP hasn't thrown too many tantrums.

I know for a fact that my future children will be terrors when it comes to that. It's just plain karma coming back to bite me in the bum.

Wendy @ All in a Day's Thought said...

My characters do that more than my stories. They want me to get them right.
~ Wendy

CKHB said...

Right there with you... a grumpy toddler and a grumpy book.

Marybeth Poppins said...

All . The . Time!

MeganRebekah said...

LOL, my scenes are often just big tantrums waiting to happen. They're never the way I want them, no matter how much we wrestle.
Then I usually daydream about them (at work, in the car, in the shower) and think of new twists and details to add in and make it shine.

Rebecca L Sutton said...

I laughed so hard when I read this. Yes, my 2 yr-old son, woops, I mean story often throws tantrums! Great comparison. ; )

storyqueen said...

My story doesn't throw tantrums as much as it give me the silent treatment from time to time like some cranky teen-ager.

I hate the silent treatments!

Shelley

Georgina said...

When my story, or painting or work project, throws a tantrum, it simply goes limp so that you can't get a proper hold on it. It just keeps slipping through your hands. If you have ever tried to pick up a cat doing this, you'll know what I mean. I try to have a couple of projects going at a time so that I can leave a difficult project for awhile and work on something else without losing momentum. (Thanks for the book suggestion yesterday! I'm going to check it out!) - G

Linda Kage said...

I think every story can be as moody as a toddler. Stepping back or moving to a different part of the story sounds like a great plan to me.

TerryLynnJohnson said...

Love this comparison!

Anita Saxena said...

My story isn't prone to tantrums, but it does get kind of lazy/introverted at times and likes the hide under the bed like a cat. If I try to pull it out- it bites me.

Jody Hedlund said...

Don't you just love toddler tantrums? Not! My four year old still has melt-downs every once in a while. Not a pretty sight.

And yes, I definitely have moments where my story isn't working! Like lately with the rewrites! But I'm putting my head down and working until I get it right!

Corey Schwartz said...

I think I'm with Shelley. Tantrums from my kids. Silent treatment from my WIPs.

Lisa and Laura said...

Oh yes, our stories can be very uncooperative at times. It does all sorts of things that I didn't intend for it to do. Sadly, time outs don't seem to work very well. With WIPs you have to duke it out. Show them whose boss. Or something like that...

Shelli said...

my 2 year old son does that too - what is it about boys?

Caroline Starr Rose said...

Yup. Often happens when I force a character to do something out of character.

Tamika: said...

I have had to step away from my story quite often. Now I am actually starting a new project until I gain a better perspective on this one.

I don't want to banish it forever, but we do need some time apart.

Happy writing!

staceyjwarner said...

Oh yes, my stories throws tantrums but they are easier to handle than a childs. Luckily my child has only thrown a couple.

much love

melane said...

My 15 month old throws several tantrums a day. I know how you feel.

My story has been giving me problems, too. One day I think it's great, and the next day it is the worst thing ever written and I just can't figure out how to fix it.

Belle said...

I get those moments where nothing will budge - the kind of toddler tantrum where your child lays herself down in front of your grocery cart at the grocery store, wailing and refusing to move. Stepping away is the only thing that helps (although in real life, I can't step away too far!)

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Ha! Yes, I have faced-off with terribly unruly sentences and scenes and balky plot points. Great comparison.

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

Yes. That 10k day my peeps were all kinds of angry. Sometimes Faith acts like a two year old. :)

Patti said...

Sometimes I have to put them in a corner and go give myself a time out.

Beth said...

I have a two year old as well, so I LOVE this metaphor. And yes, my story throws tantrums, too! I take a deep breath and walk away for a little bit!

David said...

I'm not sure if I'm rewriting chapter seven of my novel for the third or fourth time. One of these days.

I have no children, and could handle double that number with ease.