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Stuck in Plot Hell April 19, 2009

Posted by Ann Bertorelli in Uncategorized.
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girltrunk-by-jim-frazierIf you’ve been following this blog, you know that I am in the process of writing my first novel. And as I mentioned in an earlier post, it’s quite an adventure-and not always in a good way. A few weeks ago I noticed that I just didn’t seem able to find the time to work on my book. And when I did manage to get some time, I found myself repositioning commas, changing words and fretting about where my page numbers were. I knew this was not a good thing. And with the sudden flash of insight that only a procrastinating writer can experience, I realized that I was stuck in plot hell and didn’t have a clue about how to get out. Hmm, I thought to myself-this is not good. Especially since I have a commitment to have the draft done before I go to my writer’s retreat in Taos, NM this summer. (http://www.comfortqueen.com/workshops-retreats/writers_spa)

I gave considerable thought to what I could do about this quandary. (I wasn’t accomplishing much else during my writing time so this was relatively easy to do.) Finally I decided to move off the mark. I decided that on my Florida vacation I would request a plot talk with my long-time friend Jane who is an avid reader. So Jane and I spent a very long lunch time discussing the pros and cons of what I was considering as well as some possible ways out of the corner I had painted myself into. The upshot of that conversation was (drum roll) that I had a new lease on my plot, if not my life. In the process of talking through the various alternatives and character motivations, Jane even had a thought about a possible next book, using the main characters I have already created for this book. Hubba, hubba. She also pointed out that I had started the book in one genre-a thriller– and was proceeding to make it into another type of book altogether. A cross between a romance and a soap opera.. Uh-oh…

With renewed determination, I went back to my book outline and I am happy to say that I was able to create a new and improved sequence of events that feels a lot more cohesive than the original. Hence, Strategy #1 for stuck fiction writers: have a plot talk with someone whose not afraid to brainstorm, loves fiction and has read a lot of it.

Having come up with a new plot was good, but still not good enough to light a fire under my ass. On to Strategy #2.

I am fortunate to have a group of friends who are writers and even more fortunate to have a weekly conference call with said friends. On these calls we moan about our writing woes, coach each other through them, give each other tips that we have come across, and of course go totally off topic at least once during the call. Funnnn…

During a recent call my friend Anne was talking about how motivated she was when she wrote a novel draft during NaNoWriMo (http://www.nanowrimo.org/). NaNoWriMo occurs during the month of November each year and involves a commitment one makes to complete an entire novel during the month. Anne was saying how it was relatively easy for her to complete her novel because she had a firm deadline. One thing led to another and before I knew it I was committing to having the draft for the novel completed by April 30th.( OMG, I think that I am hyperventilating right here at my keyboard.) To this end I have set aside two days in the month to devote to writing. No errands, no coaching appointments,no phone calls, few emails, and the biggest sacrifice of all, no housework.

To summarize Strategy #2: Set a deadline (as firm as you can) in which to finish your work and do what you need to do to get it accomplished. And announce your deadline to someone else or, if you are really foolhardy, publish it in a blog post.

I’d love to give you Strategies 3, 4, and 5 but at the moment I don’t have any more to offer. However, I do think that Strategies #1 and#2 are a darn good start. I’ll let you know how I make out. Happy Writing to you too.




1. I Shed T h i r t y P o u n d s in Only a Month - May 6, 2009

Hi, interesting post. I have been thinking about this topic,so thanks for sharing. I’ll probably be coming back to your site. Keep up great writing

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