Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Plot Fizzles

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? Do you use plotting software? Writing software? Critique partners? Writers' groups?

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


Jill said...

I just use the hit and miss approach. Try and try again. That may not be the best way, but I can't get my head around other approaches. I have never tried writing softawre and am curious about it. As for writing-critique groups: never for me (so far - one day that could change).

Terry Odell said...

I'm with Jill--when something isn't working, I'll mull over all the reasons, then play around in my head trying out other scenarios. Or I'll brainstorm with my daughter or crit group a bit. I just moved to another part of the country so I haven't hooked up with crit partners locally, but I do have a small on-line group.

Anonymous said...

I like to introduce a new character. This is an opportunity to make a shift in the plot. Move in another direction. I have a lot of characters. My book is anything but a cozy mystery. This provides me with more people to kill too.

Stephen Tremp

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

I think this is a problem we all face from time to time--sagging middles. I try to think of something exciting that can happen to move things along.

Libby McKinmer said...

Thanks, everyone -- I must admit, I like various ideas, and brainstorming with other writers is helpful. I haven't tried any writing software yet either, so maybe will blog about that next time and find some links to some well-known programs.

Like the idea of a new character or adding something exciting to move things along -- stir up that plot and get it bubbling again instead of fizzling!

Robert W. Walker said...

Here is what I do. I start over at the beginning and re-read, edit, rewrite up to the point of stall...up to thas sagging middle or wherever it occurs. By editng as I go, by re-establishing with my plot, my characters, my setting, my dialogue, my key elements, all of it, the slow down gets smacked down plus I have the added advantage of having a much cleaner draft as it builds. I do not any longer wait for the entire book to be completed before I go back in parobala fashion to do rewriting, rethinking, re-brainstorming.

Then at times I also step away from the writing when stalled, go shower, go garden, go for a walk and without forcing it allow my subconcious to work it out and often I get the necessary AHA moment that way.