Monday, August 25, 2014

Plot Problems

Sometimes, you get bogged down in the plot of the story. You know the beginning, you know where you're going, but you don't quite know how to get there. You've got A and know C but B, the connection between the two, is a mystery.

In my current story, I've got the initial scenes finished and I know what's going to happen when the detectives confront the suspect, the difficult part is getting the characters to that point. I have to trickle clues that make sense, establish realistic leads for the detectives to follow and get to where I need them to be. I think I've got it mostly figured out, for the moment, but these kind of plot problems can be tricky. They can halt you in your figurative steps, tank your word count and demolish your drive.

So how do you deal with them? How do you write when you don't know how to get from A to C? How do you write something down you haven't even figured out yet? There's a few things that might work. It's helpful to think of these strategies as tools in your writer toolbox. One might work for one story and another might work for something else. Who knows? It's always better to have more tools than you need.

Often, when this problem affects me, I do have a solution in mind, it's just a weak one, it's one that doesn't fit perfectly in the plot, doesn't quite work as well as I would like it to. If that's the case, if you do have some idea of how it works but you just don't like it....write it anyways! Write it down and move on. At least you have something, at least you are still putting words down on paper. You can always come back and fix it up, completely rewrite it if you want to. Getting past the problem, even with a weak solution, will move you forward, will get you towards the end. You know you will have to edit the story after the first draft anyways, it's fine to have a weak moment or two. You will probably have more than you know, anyways. That's what editing is for, I find it's much easier to punch up scenes after I've written the whole story and know where I'm headed. If you've got any idea, go for it, use it. It might work better than you think it will anyways.

Another tool is to simply skip the problematic part. You know what's going to happen later so write it. At least you're getting words down, at least you're working on your project and getting shit done. You're going to have to write that later part anyways, aren't you? Get it done now! Come back to the problematic scene later, when you've had some time to think about it and after you've written what will come after it. Writing the scenes ahead of it may give you some insight into what the problem is and how to solve it. You might find clues in your future scenes that help you solve your problem or maybe just giving your brain time to mull the problem over will help you solve it.

A third tool and one I wouldn't suggest using often, is taking a break. Take a break from writing for a day or two, if a problem is really working you over. I don't like to suggest this because starting and working on a habit of writing regularly is something you should always strive for. Habits take repetition and even just one day of not writing can set you back, can get you off track. But sometimes, you need a break. Your mind needs a break. Doing something completely different can jog your brain into solving problems. Letting your subconscious work can do wonders. There are times where you will wake up and have the answer just because your brain was working on it while you slept.

That's it for today, and remember, WRITE FIRST AND ASK QUESTIONS LATER.

Also, what do you do when you have 'plot problems'? Difficult situations that hinder your writing? Forge through or take a break and think? I'm interested to hear.

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