Getting stuck at some point in a story is a pretty common affair for writers. We don’t generally have all of the elements worked out or more often than not, something happens along the way to send the story in an unexpected direction that wasn’t planned on. Characters develop along with the story and you realize they would not do something as originally thought. Basically, things can and do get off track on a regular basis. For me, hitting a roadblock in the middle of writing the story is one of the worst things. I hate having the flow interrupted, because figuring out plot issues is a very different thinking process than putting the story down on the page. This is one of the reasons why I plot the entire book out before I start writing. I don’t want to get stuck. I do however, get stuck in the plotting process.
I’m currently trying to finish my plot outline for Deadworld 3. I had a decent idea of what the main story would involve, what the major character development arc would be, and the fact that I wanted to continue a plot element briefly raised in book two. This plot element came into being as I pondered this series on a long term basis. Where did I want it to go? It could easily turn into a case to solve per book sort of series, which could and likely would be just fine. But, I like bigger things than that. I like epic stories. So, an idea spawned that I thought could turn into something great. It was vague and murky, but I decided it was something I wanted to run with. As you can likely figure out by the title of this post, I got to a point where it needs to be figured out. I can’t finish the story until I do. Frustrating. I need to know what’s going on long term, beyond this book, in order to figure out how to end this one.
Lots of ways to go about this challenge. Many writers will dive in, write up to that stuck point, and see if something comes up to solve the issue. Because of the way my brain works, I can’t do this. Not knowing the entirety of the story disrupts my creative energy for a story. I need the entire skeleton of the book laid out so I can see how the whole thing will be in the end before I dig in. Might just be me and my odd, little brain, but there you go. So, what do I do? I stare at the computer screen a lot. I look through my outline over and over again. I play around with possibilities, trying to see what grabs me the most and will work within what I’ve constructed thus far. It looks like a whole lot of nothing and feels very unproductive, especially when I’m very ready to dig into this story. I’ll talk to my wife who will spout out ideas or problems with my ideas, which helps churn the wheels. It’s a very all-over-the-place method and time consuming, but eventually small pieces will eventually fall into place and I’ll figure it out. I just wish it would hurry the hell up. I’m ready to start.
So…what do you writers out there do to figure things out when you’re stuck? I’m curious.