The Tipping Point

You know the feeling.  Every day you sit down at the keyboard, and every day you slog away at the work-in-progress.  You started it a week ago, or a month ago, or six months ago, but it’s still a rare day when you feel as if you’ve written anything good.  Mostly you can’t bear to look at a single word.  You wonder how you were ever able to do this before.  The person who finished your last story is a complete alien.  How was it your previous piece was so good, while this one is such utter and irredeemable trash?  How is it you understood your characters and their motivations so well the last time, but this time you can’t even figure out what they look like? 

And then one day it happens.  The tipping point.  Something clicks in the story and the fog in your brain fades.  Obscure narrative points reveal themselves like sounding whales.  Characters start speaking for themselves.  The book isn’t nearly as bad as you thought it was.  In fact, it actually has promise.  No one else will ever like it of course.  But your friends might smile at some of the things you’ve done.  And maybe some readers who’ve shown themselves crazy enough to have a real affinity for your work will actually like it, too.  You find yourself fist-pumping at the ends of scenes, and leaping around the room every time you find the perfect word. 

Or at least that’s what I do.  I just hit that point in my latest WIP, so the feeling is fresh in my mind. 

How about other folks?  What do you do when you think a story is finally coming together?  Or are you one of those lucky writers who sees their way clear to the end right from the beginning?

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  1. 1. Seebo

    I’ve only recently come across this site and this lovely blog is a great example of why I’ll be coming back. Positive, open and really encouraging reading that makes you remember why you write. Thank you Mr Butler, this is wonderfully timed for me, to remind myself that sometimes (oh, boy, just sometimes!) this feeling does happen.

    For me, it’s that sudden rush and pumping of the heart and your fingers struggling to catch up with your brain. I call it being ‘on a roll’ and when that happens time stops, the walls fall away and the juices just flow. Whether the words are any good, at that point, doesn’t matter for me, it’s the feeling that you’ve *connected* with what you’re writing and some part of you – the rhythm part, if you will – hits sync with your heart. And that’s why I write for those rare, diamond moments.

    Thanks again. Great to hear you describe it so clearly on a day when there seems to be a roadblock on anything I do with the keyboard!

  2. 2. Radish

    Often, that tipping point is abrupt, like a match being struck — it just flares to life and into being, so bright and unexpected that it momentarily blinds the witness.

    But more often it’s like waiting for fermentation to begin, when the grape squeezings decides it wants to become wine.

    And then there are the days when dialogue and events beautifully fall into place, like Tetris on auto-pilot. Oh-hhh, I live for those days.

  3. 3. S.C. Butler

    Radish – You’re not the only one. I live for those days, too.

  4. 4. jere7my

    What do you do when you think a story is finally coming together?

    Stiiiiiiill waitin’.

  5. 5. Lara Morgan

    That tipping point feeling sometimes seems as elusive as chasing rainbows. Most of the time when I’m working I feel as if I have no idea what I’m doing, wonder if any of it makes any sense and find myself wondering if perhaps I should have taken up something more suited to my intelligence level – like fly swatting. However I have just recently been editing my second book and have, thank the lord of fly swatters, had that eureka moment when it feels like it is actually, maybe all acheivable and perhaps this books is not really in need of being strapped to the next space shuttle and ejected as junk.
    But then again, that’s just today. Tomorrow it could all fall in a heap again.
    But isn’t that the challenge of why we do it?
    Just a bunch of masochists really aren’t we.

  6. 6. S.C. Butler

    Seebo – Glad you’re liking our site. And keep writing despite the roadblocks. I’m sure you’ll get on another roll soon!

    Jere7my – Patience is important for any kind of writing. Patience to make sure you get it right. Patience when you try to find an agent. Patience even if you sell something. (It takes forever for things to actually come out.

    Lara – The tipping point feeling is always elusive. That’s why it feels so great when it finally arrives. And yes, we are masochists. An addiction, I call it.

Author Information

S.C. Butler

Butler is the author of The Stoneways Trilogy from Tor Books: Reiffen's Choice, Queen Ferris, and The Magician's Daughter. Find out what Reiffen does with magic, and what magic does with him... Visit site.

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