Salutations, nerds, I'm coming back at you and continuing to knock off the rust with another blog entry. This time I want to tackle something I hear people complaining about a lot and that is plot tangles. You know, writer's block. When you hit a point where you just don't know what you need to do.
Yes, my outlining friends, it happens to you too.
So without further ado, 10 ways to unstick your stuck plot.
1. Go for a walk or a drive. - It's a proven fact that ambulating makes you think regardless of whether you're going somewhere or not and I in particular find the motions of a car relaxing. Get offline and go outside for a minute, and see what comes to you when you aren't being bombarded by other stimulus. Sometimes you'll see things out there that will help you think too. This is my go to method, personally.
2. Reassess your outline. - Go look at that outline if you have one. Look at the scenes up until this point and at what comes after. Sometimes, just rereading where you're trying to go can help, otherwise you might see where you went wrong.
3. Listen to some music. - A lot of people are inspired by music. Song lyrics can be a great place to mine for ideas because so much of the time they end up being a little bit abstract. No two people are going to take them the same way. Try to imagine your characters in a music video. See if it helps.
4. Soundboard with a friend. - Ask them first. I reiterate because this is important; ask them first, if they mind. Because if they do, they probably won't tell you and it's going to end up making them mad. No one wants to do your work for you. But if they are like me and actually like to do it, talking out your story with them might help you find what you're missing to press on.
5. Get up and start talking to yourself. - Yes, it makes you look a little crazy, but I promise it's helpful. Imagine yourself as one of the characters and start going over lines. Say something your character would say in anger, or grief. You'd be amazed how helpful it can be.
6. Go drink water and eat food. - On the grind? One of those people that writes for hours at a time? You might have forgotten basic body maintenance. Go eat some food. Go drink some water. Go take a shower. Basic self-care. Then come back and see if that helped.
7. Think about each character and what the worst thing that could happen to them is. - No seriously. People love characters the best when they're in pain so hurt them. Pull no punches. Take a minute and think about what the worst thing for your protagonist is right now. And hit them with it.
8. Think about where you want your story to end. - If you don't already know you should. If you do already know think about it again. Decide what the next step to get you closer to that ending should be.
9. Add ninjas. - If you don't have anything else you can try, just make something dramatic happen. Someone walks in with a gun. Ninjas attack. Your werewolf starts transforming. Wait, it's the middle of the day wtf, Megan? Exactly. Why is that happening? I'm pretty sure your readers want to know too, so go figure it out.
10. Hammer at the damn story anyway until you start getting somewhere. - Sometimes you just have to write when you aren't inspired. It sucks, it's true. But honestly, when your readers pick your book up they aren't going to know which parts you slogged through. So go do it.
I know this has been a short one, but big life adjustments call for some disruption. You know how it goes. Hoping to get on a regular schedule again soon!
Megan R. Miller
PS. If you're enjoying this blog, if you're enjoying what I'm doing, keep an eye out for my upcoming novel Torchlighters. It's totally not coming out until 2019, but the good news is I'm chipping away at Draft 2 currently and it should be totally worth it.