Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Stuck and Getting Un-stuck

No one likes getting stuck.

What is my next plot point???

 <--Especially THAT kind of stuck. But I'm talking about getting stuck in a novel, not knowing how to move forward. I hit a standstill recently for two reasons. First, I found through some critique that I was heading down a path I didn't want with a character. She was supposed to be nicer than what she was appearing. Also, I hit a plot point that has me a little tripped up.

I struggle getting out of these predicaments. I'm a streaky writer. If I can build up momentum, then I can keep plugging along. If I get thrown off track, then it kills that head of steam, and I have a hard time building it back up.

I know that I need to keep with consistency, to keep at it. It just gets tricky to maneuver in those circumstances. I've heard it said if you get stuck to "stick a bomb under the sofa." I can see where that would be helpful. You just have to be ready to pick up the pieces when it goes off.

I'll get past this choke point - I have several others. Hopefully I can find better ways to deal with this in the future.

My question to writer friends is: How do you get past being stuck in your WIP?


  1. I think the first novel is the most difficult to navigate. For most of us, the discipline required to keep at it has never been experienced and becomes daunting at every stopping point. You're attempting a complex plot, Jason, and I don't blame you for reaching those zones where you're unsure. But this is your passion, so don't give up. If you're a pantser, try making some note cards or a story board with research data, plot points you want to include. As for your heroine, she needs a makeover in order to make her sympathetic. Strong doesn't need to be despicable. Raleigh Harmon is a prime example in Sibella Giorello's series.

    In the past when I got stuck, I took a break and read novels. There are a few out now which deal with your subject. See what you think of them. Do they cover what you want to write about? Do they do it well? What can you add to your story that they didn't include?

    But, as you know, most important: serious prayer and a commitment to do what the Lord tells you to do.

  2. I was going to say prayer, but Nicole already said it. Seriously though. I had my character stuck (literally) in a swamp and had no idea how to get him out. I prayed and had friends pray. He was stuck for almost two years! But that scene now is one of the strongest in the four books. When it's time, you'll have what you need.

    For now, I suggest a character makeover. Take some time to do a rewrite, making the character into someone readers will pull for. Very possibly, the next plot point will be waiting for you at the end of that process.

    And rewriting isn't as hard as it seems when you're sitting there thinking about it. You already have the scene envisioned. You already have the core dialogue. It's really a lot faster than writing from scratch, and I think a lot more enjoyable once you get into it.