I had an interesting experience writing this morning. For a few days I’ve been wondering about how I was going to get Character A to “stay home” so to speak while the other characters went on a short trip, thus imperiling them because of the Character A’s absence.
Every solution I was coming up with felt a little forced. I think I could have gotten away with one of them, but I wasn’t very satisfied.
My style of writing is plotting things out via an outline, seeing where the story leads on a less committed basis before writing out the actual scenes. (Your style may be different, so don’t worry if you like to do things out of chronological order, it’s whatever works for you.) In my outline I knew where I wanted to go, but I’d come to one of those writing ravines where you’re not certain how to cross from one side to the other.
Some useful strategies can be pondering on it, trying out several different scenarios, and generally struggling until you get there—or going cheap on your readers (not recommended). My third option was just to know that it needed to happen, but not focus on it so much. To be honest, it was kind of a “build that bridge when I get there” attitude I had.
Because I allow my characters to digress from my outline, not only does it change in ways I didn’t anticipate, but it also apparently solves future quandaries. As I was writing what things that happened to Character A this morning I suddenly thought, “Hey! This totally incapacitates Character A for later in a believable way!”
(Only in story making can you get pure joy out of torturing poor souls and have the world call it acceptable!)
I don’t know how you create, but if you’re like me and you like outlines, don’t be afraid to wander outside of it a little. Whatever kind of writer you are, if you really try to let your characters dictate how they get from point A to point B, you may uncover fantastic adventures you would never have discovered otherwise.
And possibly solve plot problems to boot. Winning!
In the end, just trust in the journey. If you’re constantly thinking on your scenes and your characters, you’re going to get there. On some days it may just flow to you, other days it may be really hard, brain-wracking work. But if you’re dedicated to your story, you will get there!
So, have you had any cathartic writing moments lately? What do you do when you have a plot problem to solve? Let me know in the comments below.