Plotters, as in writers who create an outline and know exactly where a story is heading, scene by scene, never have this problem. Pantsters, like myself, who have zero specific plans and let the story flow and go wherever it takes them, struggle with this from time to time. A few weeks ago I wrote about peaking too soon. I continued to push through this issue and put another 15,000 words into my latest draft. I think that maybe that wasn’t exactly the right move. Sure, I no longer had writer’s block, but instead, I’m stuck and have absolutely no idea where to take the story and how to resolve the new obstacle.
Several years ago, when I first met my wife and was living in the mountains, I literally painted myself into a corner. It’s a funny story now, but at the time…well let’s just say that hanging out on my upper deck, brush in hand, with no water in the nearly 100-degree weather, was not a good idea. See, I was refinishing the upper deck and had inadvertently locked myself out, thinking I could reapply the stain and then simply slip back inside. Enter automatic lock on the sliding glass door. Fortunately, I had my phone with me to call a work colleague who lived about forty-five minutes away. I was contemplating jumping from a deck fifteen feet from the ground onto the hard gravel below.
You’d think that I would alter the way I tend to do things, but I never have. I don’t plan out home repairs, or cooking big meals, or writing novels. Sometimes there are disastrous results like literally painting myself into a corner, falling from the chair stacked on the counter while installing a ceiling fan, or having to go back to the store multiple times because I don’t have all the ingredients I need. On days when the store is closed, I get very creative with substitute ingredients.
I’ve spent nearly sixty years of my life as a pantster, so that is not going to change. What I need are tools to help a pantster get unstuck. I did some research and read a blog about 5 ways to unstick. While this may help others, it did not help me. I know what my characters desire and what is getting in the way of that desire. I know what my story is about. I know what the obstacles are. I know where I want the story to end. The problem is I created an obstacle that I don’t have a resolution for. I’ve painted myself into a corner without an exit strategy.
I know this is fiction and I can write whatever outrageous thing I want to. I can especially do this because this book is another urban fantasy romance. But, here’s the thing, it just isn’t ringing true. The solutions are too weird, even for me.
Ironically, I’ve been binge watching Jane the Virgin. This hysterical Netflix series is about a writer who gets stuck, has writer’s block, and the plotline of the series is increasingly outrageous. The series parallels the telenovelas that are known for outrageous plot twists. I should simply toss my concerns aside and write one of those extreme resolutions, but I can’t because none of them work for me. Maybe if I simply continue to meander through life, an idea will pop into my head because of something someone says or does. Hey, it could happen. It occurs all the time in Jane the Virgin. So, why isn’t it plausible it might happen to me!
If you want to check out how I’ve overcome obstacles before with the various twists and turns in my previous novels, you know the drill….click on the links below.
Artist Free Zone still on Kindle Unlimited and cheap at $4.99.
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