ALL REVVED UP AND NO PLACE TO GO
I copped the title from the Meatloaf song and it has to do with plotting.
You have a great idea. You fire away and go full barrel into your story. All of a sudden you get halfway through, then realize you have nowhere to go. What now?
You knew where you wanted to start but never fully considered where you wanted to end. It seemed like a great idea at the time, but the execution didn’t pan out. Oh crap!
This is where some writers and authors make their case for outlining your story before you even start. If you outline the plot and map it out beforehand, you won’t get halfway through and run out of gas, hit that roadblock and have no place to go, right?
On the other hand, if you’re like me, an outline sucks all the inspiration and creativity right out of the story. I can’t possibly work that way.
SEAT OF THE PANTS
I’ve always vouched for the seat-of-the-pants approach, though I don’t knock outlining. Either will work because all of us are different and we have to follow our muse in whatever way works for us. In my case, I have to use seat-of-the-pants.
My plot outline is simple. I know where I want to start and where I want to end. That, my friends, is my plot outline. When I get revved up, I have a place to go. The end. The journey in-between is a surprise, but so far, I’ve never worked myself into any dead ends where I had to stop with no place to go. I’ve always had that ending to strive for.
How about you?
Could you work like that?
HOW DOES YOUR MIND WORK?
If you’re new to writing, or are experimenting with new techniques, you may one day find yourself revved up with no place to go. It may be during the seat-of-the-pants approach. In that case, you may be halfway through a manuscript. On the other hand, you may be in outline mode and run across the same issue. In that case, you have far less time and effort invested.
That logic would seem to favor always using the outline method. However, some of us just can’t work that way. If you’re seat-of-the-pants, as long as you know where to start and where to end, you can iron out those kinks along the way as long as you keep in mind the end.
FIXING THE MESS
When you find yourself stuck, even after investing a lot of time on an erroneous plot, so what if you have to trash ten, twenty, a hundred pages? Why do you write in the first place? Don’t you love doing this? Isn’t it a passion?
Look at it this way. Go back to the point where you think things went off the rails. Rethink some ways to make the plot work better, then see what you can salvage, if anything from what you already have, and maybe cut and paste what you can and tool it into the new form.
During editing, you might have to do that with plotting, even if you thought you nailed it.
Don’t get frustrated.
Once you’re done, reread and reread again until you get a warm fuzzy off it. Reread until you get excited and have fun and love what you’re reading. Reread until you get sick of it. Put it down for a while, then come back to it and have fun rereading it again.
If you can’t enjoy your own work, maybe it does suck. If you don’t have enough confidence in yourself to be able to enjoy reading what you enjoyed writing, well…
Now, you should be all revved up with someplace to go.