Friday, May 02, 2008

Dry Spells Versus Rain

You've heard me writing about hanging out on a plateau. This is an area in writing that is discouraging, frustrating, and totally bizarre.

Here's the scenario:

You've got a good start in your novel. Skipping along comfortably with no thoughts that you're gonna reach a Rocky Mountain next week (or tomorrow). Figured out what the plot is, got the characters firmly planted in your head, wrote a super beginning hook. Whew. You're flying. Nothing's gonna stop you on this novel!

Ouch. Just stubbed my writing toe. About the eleventh chapter or so, you grind to a halt. Racking of the ole brain doesn't help. Walking a path in the floor: likewise. You could try beating your head on the wall, throwing the computer out doors, burning the whole thing. Nope, not a bit of use.

What does help when you don't know where to go from here?

For me?

  • Brainstorming is a good option. I've got several wonderful critique friends that are great at brainstorming with me.
  • Another trick is to think in reverse. In other words, a chapter is going in a certain direction: reverse the action. Instead of going up the stairs, what happens if you have the hero headed down them?
  • A third option is to think about the worst thing that could happen to your poor protagonist.
One of these works every time for me. Might take me a week or more to figure it out, but I usually hit speed limit again. And I'm in good shape again until the rain stops and I hit a dry spell again. Then it's time to brainstorm, think in reverse, or imagine bad things for my "people."

Grin. What fun, huh?

One third of the students will learn regardless of the teacher, One third of the students will not learn regardless of the teacher, One third will learn because of the teacher.


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