Plot Direction, Twists, and Turns – A Non-Tutorial

I believe I explained this briefly in my entry regarding writer’s block, but this is a topic I would like to revisit with you guys—plot. While characters are the driving force of any story, the plot is like the map they travel along, so it’s just as important as the characters themselves. (Although it’s very possible to have a boring plot with very interesting characters and have the story still be good [i.e. Napoleon Dynamite], it’s nice to have a good plot to coexist with awesome characters.)

Let’s say you have an awesome idea, and you start writing. It’s freaking amazing. You’re super hyped about it, typing at a thousand miles an hour, but then, you hit Chapter Two and have no idea where to go. It starts feeling like the story just took a nosedive off the kitchen table and landed on its face, and now, it’s crawling on the ground in annoyed pain at a snail’s pace. You’ve hit linoleum bottom. What happens now? As this is a Non-Tutorial, I can’t tell you guys exactly what to do, but I want to explain a concept I’ve been exploring in more detail.

This is a new step I took when I got stuck in my new book, Black Crystal – The Essence. Around Chapter Eight, I started losing steam. Lots of bad stuff happened, yet I had no idea how to progress the story. Somewhere around May or June, I wrote about 40 more pages of a storyline I tried experimenting with, but it didn’t fascinate me. And if it didn’t fascinate me, there was no chance my readers would enjoy it, so I ended up deleting those 40 pages and decided to take a different approach. I wrote an unusual scene that led to a dreamlike sequence in which the main character subconsciously tries to kill himself after seeing a vision of his friends, his sister, and his parents in what could be perceived as “Heaven”, and the closer he is to death, the closer he gets to being with them. After that, he wakes up, his arms and neck all bloody from his own scratches, while he and his remaining friends are on a train headed for their main destination.

Specifics aside, you get the idea. I took an unexpected route and got about 80 more pages added. That’s the new technique I discovered. Basically, when I find myself stuck, I put myself in the position of the characters and freeze time so I can look at every single possible path that can be taken. Consider every possibility available, no matter how outrageous the scenario, since you can find a way to make it work. That’s why I gave the above example. It was completely unnatural, and far more different than what’s been going on for the rest of the book, but I still managed to make it fit into the story.

I guess I’m gonna be keeping today’s entry pretty short as there’s not left to elaborate on in terms of how plot goes. Perhaps the next time you run into a problem with your creative project, do that! Step into the world you’re creating and decide how many paths there are to take, and go for one. Writing is a journey. Don’t let social constraints dictate where you walk; choose the path that suits you best.

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