This article was written after finishing installment 19 of my storytelling experiment. I've had a great deal of trouble writing that piece. On Friday night I had 800+ words that all felt as dead as the proverbial dodo. On Saturday I ditched everything but the opening paragraphs and rewrote the rest according to where I felt the story wanted to go. I'm not really happy with the results but at least I've got a good starting point for the next installment. I've started writing the next installment, I have a good idea where it's going to go and so far writing it has been a pleasure.

Don't force the story...

...where it doesn't want to go.

What I was trying to do was writing one of those "the council meets and decides how to conquer the forces of evil, after which our heroes go on their separate ways to reach their goals after much hardship having various adventures along the way" kind of scenes. The textbook example is The Council of Elrond from Lord of the Rings, but you'll find similar scenes in many later fantasy novels.

I wasn't looking forward to writing it. I wasn't feeling a need to write it. Rather, it felt like a kind of hurdle I had to take in order to get to the next good bits of the story. I didn't "see" any of it happening in my mind's eye, I was just thinking my way through it on a purely intellectual level. All of these should have been major warning signals.

Don't ignore the obvious

One major problem I kept running into was why any of the other characters would trust my hero. I needed them to trust him in order to involve him in the planning and the subsequent quest to conquer evil.

In spite of all my efforts, with every rewrite I kept ending up in a situation where some one asks him "Why would we trust you?" and he just doesn't have an answer.

All the time I kept ignoring the obvious: they don't have any reason to trust him and they don't.

Group scenes are hard

Apart from the above, group scenes are challenging to write.

Group scenes give you major opportunities to flesh out characters by having them react to ideas and to each other. There are major pitfalls too. You can't include everything everyone says in the scene, but still you have to give the reader a continued sense of who's there. You'll need to give the characters distinct voices so your readers will be able to tell them apart, and you'll have to put in the information that you need to move the story forward.

This article was written after finishing installment 19 of my storytelling experiment.
After the War (19)

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