Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Plot, Plot, Fizzle, Fizzle

If the plot fizzles out partway through your manuscript, what do you do? It’s a worry faced by writers since we first put stylus to wax, ink to papyrus. We do many things to try to avoid this – we plot, storyboard, brainstorm, journal and sweat! Sometimes we fly by the seat of our pants, letting the plot unfold as it sees fit, then we can add/delete/modify as needed. Some of us detail each movement of the plot, with every move carefully orchestrated.

No matter our best intentions, we can stall. Is it the plot, or has one of our characters gone off track? Do we write our way forward, or go back and check all the threads, finding the one that we lost or dropped?

There are great suggestions for getting around these kinds of problems – and most writers run into them every once in a while – so dish! What is your best way to keep your plot storming along, and what do you do when it mires down, even momentarily? Makes no difference if you’re a seat-of-your-pants plotter or a plotter who lays out every twist and turn.

Libby McKinmer
Romance with an edge
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Mark Troy said...

Stephen J. Cannell (Rockford Files) says this happens to most writers in the middle of the story because the writer is focused on what the protagonist is doing. His solution? Ask yourself what is the bad guy up to? He says the middle of the story is the bad guy's story and you should plot from his point of view, even if you write it from the protagonist's POV.

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Mark, that was a great idea! And of course if you hold by the idea of just making things worse and worse, that helps too.

Libby McKinmer said...

Both great ideas!! And, hey, Stephen J, Cannell managed to keep many of us glued to the plots of his shows for years!

Dana Fredsti said...

Funny you should ask this, Libby, 'cause I'm currently in the middle of a scene where, despite the fact I know what needs to happen, I've been stalled. I finally figured out I needed to break it up by shifting some action I was gonna have happen later, happen halfway through the current scene.

Jean Henry Mead said...

Speaking of scenes, a well known writer whose name I can't recall, said that a scene is like a boxing match, with a knockout at the end. As for the middle of a plot, reading through the past couple of chapters propels me forward as I listen to my characters tell me what needs to happen next.