Friday, 4 March 2011

YES you CAN get past that stupid roadblock (with GPS)

(Gone But Not Forgotten post below!)

This post comes to you by popular demand... I asked you a while ago what writerly topics you'd like to hear me rant on, and this one was by far your favourite! Enjoy!

Now, I've giving this a great deal of thought, so there will be two posts on getting past roadblocks. The first one applies to you...

When Travelling with GPS

If you are a plotter, then this is for you. Those of you who go by the seat of their pants, tune in next Thurday (March 10th) for Part 2 of YES you CAN get past that stupid roadblock (without GPS).

Imagine it's a nice, sunny day outside, and you plan to take your shiny new convertible out for a ride. You have a definite plan of where you want to go - in fact, you've plotted out the entire trip. The fresh air teases your hair, you smile as your favourite song plays on the radio.

Just goes to show that life doesn't like it if we make too definite a plan. Your path is blocked, and the obstacle seems insurmountable. Your hands grip the steering wheel until your knuckles turn white.

Now what? Your perfect plan lies in ruins, the path you have chosen might aswell no longer exist.

Don't despair! You dig out your phone and give me a ring.

"What what?" I ask. "You're stuck?"

Here's what I suggest you try:

Solution Number 1: Recalculate your route

Have you ever not taken the right turn when you're trying to follow a GPS' instructions? When you do that, most of them tell you they're 'recalculating the route'. Well, you can do that, too. Go back to your plan, your plot, and rethink your route.

Is there anywhere where you could take a different turn? Some side action you could build into more? A minor plotline that you need to cut out? Maybe a specific character is getting in your way and you need to re-design that one. Or get rid of him.

The easiest way to do this (I think) is to take your plot, go one step back from the 'roadblock', and try to figure out a different turn from there. If that doesn't work, take one more step back and so on. When this happens to me it's usually because I've missed a point in character developement or developed them in the wrong direction.

Solution Number 2: Teleport

Now here's the great thing about working from a plot (even a not very detailed plot) rather than flying by the seat of your pants. You can do magic - yep magic - and simply TELEPORT over the roadblock to the next plotpoint that strikes your fancy and tickles your muse. Easy peasy. Well, in theory. I'm not really a plotter (most of the time) so this is not an approach that works well for me...

The idea is to get your juices going again without stepping out of the story entirely. By skipping this spot you can carry on writing. You can always come back to it later to fix the problem. Maybe it will fix itself while you write the next chapter/scene/section of your story, you never know!

Solution Number 3: Go drink coffee

OK so this is not an exclusively a plotter roadblock solution. Taking a (short, mind you) break can be useful for getting everything straight in your head, for getting new ideas. Go sit in your favourite coffee shop/tea shop/bakery/park/mall, have something sweet or a sandwich or something, and just listen. Listen and watch everything and everyone around you.

Me, I love listening to people. You get the greatest ideas like that. And snippets of dialogue.

Of course you can also just sit and read a good book (preferably in the genre you're working in), or go see an art exhibition.

Then, once you've rested your mind a little, only then go back to your car and figure out how to solve the roadblock problem.


I hope this can help you! If you're less of a plotter and more of a pantser, or if you need some more advice, tune in for part 2 on this topic (on Thursday, March 10th).



erica and christy said...

The progress of my WIP lately:

13,000 words - pretty good. got my groove. happy, shiny people holding hands.

17,000 words - something has gone terribly awry.

21,000 words - who are these people?

16,000 words and three less characters - okay, now we're back on track.

I seriously need to become more of a plotster!!!

The Red Angel said...

Teleporting is definitely one of my favorite solutions, how did you know? :D I think a lot of the time once you skip a roadblock, it usually eventually just rolls away on its own. Skipping it lets you focus on something else for a change as well as still keep it ( the roadblock and what it is blocking) in the back of your mind. Hmm I wonder if that makes sense. xD


Roland D. Yeomans said...

I usually go straight for the cupcakes! LOL. Have a great weekend, Roland

Christopher S. Ledbetter said...

*Laughing out loud* at Erica!!!
"Who are these characters?" LOL
Tessa, I loved this post. And it really is *that* simple to get yourself back on track. My favorite is "recalculating the route." I generally step back to the last *save point* and try to re-work from there.

Thanks for posting.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'm all for the teleporting!

Angie said...

Those are great suggestions. The go back a step one works best for me, usually. And the taking a break, too.

Myne Whitman said...

Taking a break and having a cupcake will usually help, lol.

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