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StoryMash Creative Storytelling Forum

Forums > Writing Tips and Advice > Writing Yourself In A Corner

3 Savarager 7 years, 9 months ago Reply

What do you do when you don't plan out your plot well enough, and you found that you've written a potentially unrealistic/unbelievable situation that you can't back out of? If it's fiction, I suppose you could just write your way out of it, but...
I guess you can see my problem. I COULD write my way out of it, but I'm afraid I'll be taking the easy way out, and my explanation will seem too easy, or too contrived.

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3 nashvillebecker 7 years, 9 months ago Reply

Congratulations! You have new notes!

Do you already know the ending of your story? Are you trying to fill in the blanks between now and then? Or are you going blind, seeing where the characters take you? If it's the latter, I'd say push forward. If it's the former, I advise backpedalling.

Retreat to a moment where you can take it multiple directions. Consider the important parts you want to include, then re-plot the steps from that point forward. You'll reuse some of the dialog, have a better understanding of your characters, and be prepped to avoid that pitfall again.

As mentioned, if you're going wherever it leads, keep going. Don't kill yourself over a dead end - pick it up from the other side and don't worry about the fix. You'll end up rewriting it later. (What, you thought this was your FINAL draft? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!) Free write and follow the tides.

Priority: maintain momentum. If that means breaking through the wall with deus ex machina, so be it. You'll re-fix that later. Several times, probably. The worst thing that can happen is you sulk over the mishap and stall (lose interest). Usually, once a free-written story chooses to study instead of live, it's doomed.

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1 Savarager 7 years, 9 months ago Reply

Dear Nash,

1) Thanks! Notes?

2) Yes and yes. I have an idea of how I want this to end, but at the same time, I'm also making it up as I go along.

3) I'm somewhat concerned that I've already passed the point where I can take multiple directions. Honestly, I shot myself in the foot in the very first chapter of the story. Nobody pointed it out, but it's an oversight that will need to be addressed.

4)I'm not generally a fan of deus exes (except the computer game series), so I'm really looking for ways to work WITHIN the (very flawed) structures I've established. If necessary, though, I wouldn't mind blasting through the walls.

Thanks for your input!

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2 honeygloom 7 years, 9 months ago Reply

Is the story posted on the site? Maybe we could help you out if we could read (or re-read) it... You never know what some of the sick, sick minds here will come up with;)If it's an offsite thing maybe a quick synopsis would help.

Otherwise, I'm going to disagree (politely though, I’ve heard he bites) with Nash. Sometimes space is a good thing for a story. Just don't give yourself too much space. Set a date in your calendar to go back and re-read in a week. Maybe by that time some new knowledge will have settled itself osmosis style in your brain and the ending will be a snap. Or you’ll just see a direction you never saw before.

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1 honeygloom 7 years, 9 months ago Reply

Also, have you tried pacing around and talking to yourself? Works for me...

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1 ladyvike15 7 years, 9 months ago Reply

Go figure you talk to yourself Honey! That explains so much... LOL jk don't look at me like that.

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1 honeygloom 7 years, 9 months ago Reply

As if anyone really thought I was sane. I mean really...

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1 writerwannabe 7 years, 9 months ago Reply

I agree, honey. Stories/novels are like a tiger in a room (no, not cage...lol). As long as you are visiting everyday, both the tiger and you are comfortable with each other. If you fail to visit one day, two days...no problem. The longer you delay, however, the less the Tiger remembers you and the more you'll fear going into that room.

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1 Savarager 7 years, 9 months ago Reply

It's a story that's up here on the site. I have long-term plans for the characters, so I need to work around the obstacles I've written in their way.

I've actually taken a short break from the story I'm working now, which (obliquely) deals with the lack of forethought I put into my plotting. I used to do it when I had to write assignments in school - just step back, take a breath, clear the head, and approach with new, fresh perspective.

Much as I appreciate the offer of help, I don't quite want to disclose the details of my roadblock, for fear that I will give away some plot points (and also on the off-chance that I can figure it out, you guys won't know about it, haha).

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1 nashvillebecker 7 years, 9 months ago Reply

Anything you've written that doesn't end up in the final draft qualifies as notes. Think of it as film footage that hits the cutting room floor.

As Honey hinted, it's difficult to make further suggestions as to how to break through without knowing individual circumstances. If your character is a goldfish, odds are it'll have trouble wielding a machete. Better stated: I don't know why you need to work around the obstacles you've written in their way. Unwrite the obstacles, if necessary. Put the characters in a different situation/setting. If you're working an alphabet structure (trying to get your story from A to Z), avoid numbers. Simultaneously, make sure your letters are interesting and unpredictable. Inevitably surprising.

Backing away from the story isn't a bad thing, so long as you revisit it. Too often, when I choose that route, the ideas never see daylight again. Using WWB's analogy, don't let the tiger pass the point of feral and fear-inducing. The tiger can and will die if you don't feed it. New ideas are always more interesting to explore than old ones. Why else the term "novelty?"

(Should the tiger bite you in the ****, don't blame me. I only bite fingers. Preferably chicken or Vienna.)

So if you have the discipline and fortitude to set it down for better focus, it can provide clarity, focus, and new inspiration. For something on the site? I dunno. Seems like a blueprint for eternal draft status.

-- Nash

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1 Savarager 7 years, 9 months ago Reply

1) Notes. Right. Got it.

2) How do you insert two line breaks, instead of a simple return, into your comments?

3) The plot oversight is in one of the stories I've posted up here. Now that it's here, published, for all the world to see, I'm loath to change anything about it. Hence, I'm compelled to work within the framework that I've established. This isn't necessarily a bad thing - I'm just somewhat miffed at myself that in my exuberance, I didn't plan this out well enough.

I'd write more, but it's like really friggin' late.

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1 Savarager 7 years, 9 months ago Reply

I'd like to point out that the story I had stalled because of this whole "writing into a corner business" is now the featured story.

Who your daddy. Who your daddy long time.

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1 Cal_3 7 years, 9 months ago Reply

I often welcome the idea of writing myself into a corner. Heck, its an outright challenge!

We all know writing can be easy some days and impossible the next but sometimes all it takes is a decision. If you don't want to rewrite a certain part because you're so attached to it then thats your right. If you feel that their is another way then go for it.

But when the time comes and you've hit that wall again you might need to finally accept the fact and rewrite the scene/chapter/novel.

I'm at the point in my biggest project (100,000 word novel...ish) where I need to begin to tie it all together. Its hard for me to finish it by going stream of thought. I've found myself reading and rereading -- note editing mind you -- everything I've written so I can decide what conclusions would fit the best.

In short, theres a time and place for writing by the seat of your pants or sitting back and recollecting. Its up to you to see when its appropriate.

When you test both ideas for this trap you've woven yourself you'll realize which works best for you and I hope that you run with it for the rest of your writing career.

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