Here are some tips for my friends who are in the midst of NaNoWrMo and who find themselves stuck in the midst of a scene.
I’m not doing NaNoWrMo because I’m constantly working on novels, but the other day I painted myself into a corner.
My online action adventure novella, Chantico, was well on it’s way when I realized that I had my hero, my heroine, and my villain all out in the middle of Lost Dutchman State Park shooting at one another and running away. The rest of the cadre of characters was stuck in the office at park headquarters talking about the history of the Lost Dutchman Mine. They were as stuck as I was.
That got me thinking about how to get unstuck from this scene and how to get unstuck in general when you are writing.
I remember that Stephen King talked about getting stuck one time and so he set off a bomb. What a marvelous idea. Here are some things you can do.
Approach One – Kill Someone
Granted, this works best for action/adventure stories, but there are always cousins, aunts, ex-boyfriends, etc to kill off in your love story or drama about the meaning of life.
You can always kill someone. In fact, my daughter once challenged me to write a story where I didn’t kill someone (it’s here: http://kentostby.com/head-of-the-hooch-parts-1-2).
Approach Two – Start an argument
Maybe a couple of your characters don’t get along. One’s been sniping at the other behind the other person’s back. Time to let it out.
Have the angry character let the other one have it. Make it a verbal explosion like Stephen King’s actual one. When it’s over, make the characters pick up the pieces. Have friends pick one side or another or maybe have someone try to take advantage of the discord for their own good.
Approach Three – Have your most impatient character force action
This is what I did in this last chapter. I looked around the room and tried to figure out who would be the most upset that they were just sitting there doing nothing.
Here’s what I wrote:
“Listen, I don’t give a crap about any of this history,” said Haffner suddenly. The old man had been sitting in back listening to the description and the banter back and forth.
“What I can tell you is that there are two girls out there who are being held by a blood thirsty killer and a bunch of other murderers and Tull Garrett is out there with no food and no water trying to get them free. Now, you can sit here and talk about your wars and tribes and city-states all that you want, but I’m going out there in five minutes and finding them.”
Make your own way out
Those are three ideas that I’ve used, but even if they don’t fit your situation exactly, they should get you thinking.
The key is to look at your characters and figure out which ones are unhappy with the current situation you’ve written them into.
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