Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Plotting roadblock

No, I'm not talking about roadblocks you've planned yourself. I'm talking about when your plotting hits a roadblock.

So in my first novel, I didn't plan ahead much - I tried, but was spectacularly ineffective. I remember hitting a midway point when it all seemed to be going nowhere, and even now, after several drafts, there are multiple threads to unpick, and many, many things I wish I'd done differently from the start. In fact, that's why it's holidaying in a cupboard - because it has potential, but  I'm not clever enough yet to tackle the major rewrite it needs.

This time, older and wiser (well, older at least) I plotted carefully and I've been writing fast, editing a little as I've gone, and been blissful. Until today.

Today I arrived at a scene that I wasn't at all sure about. It involves my significant woman sharing a meal with her in-laws. Exactly - it doesn't sound riveting, does it? So with that in mind, I sat down before I began and tried to work out what this scene was for. Could I cut it completely? Would it work with other characters? I spent a precious half hour of my writing time thinking about what I needed to achieve in this scene, and why. It turns out that the crucial thing is that the mother in law is instrumental in the last chapter. So I can't just introduce her at the end. I don't think any other character could do the job, either.

On top of that, the in-laws have less important but significant influence  in a more general way. So this is definitely the right moment to introduce them. Reassured that I needed to write this scene, and focused on why, I set off. But it didn't flow. I spent my hour writing the start of the scene three times, and then ran out of time. Now, the shine has rubbed off my enthusiasm. This is something I need to fix, or it could be a real brake on my creativity.

I'm going to mull it over. Perhaps the characters aren't real enough yet. Perhaps the setting for this scene is too domestic. Perhaps my writing is the problem. Perhaps I'm rushing it all, because it doesn't interest me - but if it's not interesting me, something deeper is still wrong with this. I'm hitting a block because my subconscious knows something is Wrong . So I'm giving myself a day's grace (not that I have much choice as I'm at work tomorrow) and I'm going to see if I can figure it out.

And if that doesn't work, perhaps my plotting will allow me to skip over it and come back.

What do you do when things go wrong?


  1. When things go wrong, I usually panic :) Keep going! I mentioned your blog in a post yesterday by the way, as a thank you for introducing me to Writers' Forum magazine.

    1. Thank you Karla! A lot has gone on in the last few days (which I will blog about soon) which have put it in perspective. When I get half an hour to myself to write again, I will have renewed enthusiasm - it's building already!