Feb 18, 2010

Backing into a Corner

It happens to everyone eventually. And, yes, it's happening to me right now. What am I talking about? Let me set the scene for you.

You've backed yourself into a corner, and you've done a bang-up job of it. Your character can't figure out how to get him or herself out, and neither can you. So, you've stopped writing lest you put three more words on the page and inadvertently kill your MC.

Hey, it happens. Sometimes a character iss already on the kamikaze mission, so to speak, and tearing toward his or her inevitable destruction with no way out, and anything you could can think of to save them would be cheating.

So, I broke down my dilema by asking myself these questions:

1. What part of the action could only my MC do?
2. What parts could be played by another character?
3.  Who else's injury might play the same role as the MC and have the same importance to it?
4. How could could I split the actions that had to be taken in the scene so my heroes do the things only they could do, while someone else sacrificed ____ in order to help 'em out?

These Q's may not apply to everyone, but I think the steps I thought of when in a bind might help.

Step 1: First, remember every question you ask yourself centers around creating change. Your doing so to watch dominoes fall in a direction you had never thought of before.
Step 2: Ask the simple who, what, where, when, why, and how before its too late.
Step 3: Avoid weakening the impact of your scenes simply because of changes.
Step 4: Find out why new things are happening & make damn well sure you refit the story around the changes you need to make.

So, my question to everyone is have any of you gotten stuck lately? If so, what methods did you use to work your MC out of it?


SB said...

your writing posts always amaze me. I've never tried to write a novel, but I admire anyone who has...the detail astounds me.

Elle Strauss said...

I'm working on a new WIP right now, actually my nano project. I read it today for the first time, just over a hundred pages, all main plot. I don't know what to do for subplots. My secondary characters are pretty bored right now. I think I'll have to print it out and really let my imagination loose.

Voidwalker said...

If I back myself into a corner, with my writing, I try to imagine what would happen if I wrote a penguin into the mix... that usually spices things up enough to break me out :P j/k

Good info though

JennJ said...

This was a great post I absolutely loved your questions you asked yourself to help get yourself out of the problem! I'm gonna try these myself the next time I do this and this has happened to me more than once too. :) Thanks for the great ideas!!! :) Hope you have a great week!

Anonymous said...

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jdcoughlin said...

I was just blogging about this, too. It amazes me how I can have a great outline of how and where I expect things to go and then find I'm in a totally different place. Most times, I back up to a point where I am certain I wanted to be and then let things break loose again like it's the first time and I didn't just carve myself into a corner.
Most times, it works.

Ash. Elizabeth said...

Liz, I counted all international entries.

Ash. Elizabeth said...

SB, thanks so much!

Elle, throw in a lie or make one of the characters drop a big old secret bomb. I love dropping secrets that were withheld, yet could've helped my MC out had she known out it to begin with. Just a thought.

Voidwalker, penguins are awesome and should have their own novel. I'm thinking a thriller novel where they plan to bomb the government.

JennJ, your very welcome : )

Jdcoughlin, I know but sometimes I feel like the new direction is more spicier than the old outline and run with it anyway. Of course, I stop and re-plot so that I don't reach an iceberg. lol. its always good hearing about it happening to others.