August Round Robin – Getting Unstuck

This is going to sound weird, but I have a crystal ball. It’s not one of those clear crystal balls that you see fortune tellers use in the movies, it’s a crystal that is cloudy on the inside, full of facets and glimmering spots within the stone.

It’s big enough that it stretches my fingers whenever I hold it, and no matter what time of day, it is cool to the touch. And it’s heavy… heavy enough that I think someone could commit a murder with it if they ever wanted to.

And should I ever write a murder mystery you can be sure that I’ll use a heavy crystal ball as the weapon.

When I get stuck in my writing, my first stop is the crystal ball. I only have so many hours in a day, so the act of pausing to mull over a plot point that isn’t working turns into a real hindrance. Thus … I stop, lift my crystal ball, let it cool and stretch my fingers while I eyeball what I’ve already written.

Then, I sit back down and I write some more because if I wait on my Muse to help me get things done, I would never finish a book.

That’s just the nitty-gritty of writing, though. That’s not what I do if I’m having trouble plotting.

So what do I do when something is broken and I’m having trouble with the plot?

I go to the gym.

Or I go for a walk.

Or a swim.

Basically, I get out. I leave my desk behind and I go do anything other than think about the novel.

… That’s a joke, the novel inevitably comes with me. It clings to my subconscious while I busy myself with things. And, in the middle of doing these things, I will eventually get the eureka moment that tells me what I need to do to fix the book.

But the point is, living life tends to be the best solution when there’s a plot issue in a work. Going out to the park to play with my son has often inspired me to go in different directions with a novel. And once I’ve done that, I find that the book is stronger for it.

But one trick I’ve learned to do is ask this basic question; “What’s the next thing they (character) need?”

For example … the book I’ve been working on the last few weeks is another fantasy novel. I have an outline, but it’s already been broken to bits, and that’s a good thing. Because as I’ve gotten to the end of each chapter, I’ve asked myself that question … “What’s the next thing Cassy/Lorden/Macbyrne needs?”

Well, by the end of chapter 4 I had one very naked Lorden o’Lir with a broken arm. So the basic answer is … Lorden needs clothes. And then he needs to see whatever passes for a medical practitioner in Neargate. Which … completely messes up the outline but makes perfect sense AND makes the novel better.

I suppose it says a lot about their culture when clothes are more important than a broken limb.

See what some of my fellow authors do when they get stuck in a work in this month’s Round Robin discussion …

Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/
(YOU ARE HERE) A.J. Maguire  https://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/
Anne de Gruchy https://annedegruchy.co.uk/category/blog/
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Victoria Chatham http://www.victoriachatham.com
Marie Laval http://marielaval.blogspot.co.uk/
Judith Copek http://lynx-sis.blogspot.com/
Dr. Bob Rich http://wp.me/p3Xihq-137
Helena Fairfax http://www.helenafairfax.com/blog
Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com/
Heather Haven http://heatherhavenstories.com/blog/
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Rhobin Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com


6 thoughts on “August Round Robin – Getting Unstuck

  1. I am delighted to learn we all seem to use a similar approach. Or nearly. But I say throw in some chocolate while you’re running around. Or some other treat. Life is short.

  2. I really like your question ‘what does my character need?’ and I’m going to try that next time I’m stuck! Thank you.

  3. I agree with Marie, I think your technique of asking ‘what does my character need’ will be put into practice at my desk. Enjoyed your post.

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