After writing in high gear for the past few weeks and finding myself stuck, I thought about the Hero’s Journey workshop I took with Stevan Allred and Joanna Rose this spring. We had homework–making a giant picture of our character’s journey and filling in the various components we were learning about.
Putting my thoughts on paper for that class helped me craft a number of important plot developments.
So I decided to try the pen and paper method again. I woke up one morning at 4 a.m., found a pile of blank notecards and wrote down all the scenes planned for the third section of LOST NOTES, my historical novel about a fainting pimp.
There were 18 scenes and plenty of characters. That seemed like way too much to squeeze into a third of a novel, even an epic. So I went about putting the notecards in order and then getting dreamy about them.
First I figured out where I took the wrong path–my protagonist’s reaction to an unexpected situation, which I fretted over at the time. By changing that one decision, I found a way to compress the major events, eliminate a number of scenes, put a final antagonist on the page sooner, and shorten the overall timespan.
A day after my notecard experiment, I opened a blank computer document and rewrote my story outline. It’s not an official outline, or even a summary, but it’s a record of how my brain reconnected the pieces. I’ll use that document to move forward. As with all writing solutions, my breakthrough caused a few new problems. I hope to work through them as I move forward. Slower, this time, but with a better sense of direction.
Then again, my friend Emma Burcart reminded me, “I would love to see you give yourself a break and just write through to the end. This isn’t the only draft you are going to do.”
So that’s the plan. To keep writing.