Last week, I shared about how much I hated my NaNoWriMo novel and how I got unstuck. This week, I’d like to share the wild and crazy ideas my friends gave me as I was wrestling with my inner critic and trying to figure out how to fix my broken story. Some of these suggestions were things I’ve used before; others were new to me. All of them have merit, especially if you are looking for ways to really shake things up.
The one thing these suggestions have in common is a sense of the extreme. The lesson I took away: You must be willing to do ANYTHING in your writing. For those of us who don’t really plan what we are going to write (known as “pantsers”, because we write by the seat of our pants), this is a Golden Truth about first drafts. Anything goes. Literally anything. Staying in that sense of the possible produces the most creative and surprising work, right along with the silliest and strangest.
Here, in no particular order, are the suggestions my friends made:
- In screenwriting, when we get stuck, we crash an airplane. It always works. If you’re in an era in which there are no airplanes, have a witch on a broom crash…or blow something up… — Judy Fort Brenneman
- Do something drastic. Have an asteroid drop on the situation and start over with whatever rises from the ashes. I mean, a COMPLETE blow-it-up. Vestiges of what you were working on will appear to have survived. What are they? — Deborah Robson
- Maybe add in a scene from a different point-of-view and see if that change in perspective helps?
My favorite sometimes non-serious advice is to have something fall onto the characters — literally or figuratively — that wasn’t foreshadowed, like the cliché “dead body falling down the stairs when they open the door.” — Jami Gold
- Sounds like you need to go in a new direction, even if it invalidates a lot of what you have already written. My first thought is to introduce an entirely new character (or two or three). Maybe even someone with no relationship, yet, to the existing protagonists? — Kelleen Casey
- Someone wakes up and it was all a bad dream.
Someone finds a device that allows them to step into an alternate reality… and some how loses the device/key that will let them get back. Characters have different personalities, past events had different outcomes, protagonist is fish out of water. Protagonist loses/ finds love interest through this plot twist. — Josie Bergstrom
- Step out the story and give your main character a dream. Then analyse it and then go back to the story and there should be some scene inspiration that’s magically evolved while you’ve been off dreaming… — Sara Litchfield
- Get crazy. Jump around in your story. Write something that doesn’t fit, like zombie vampire clowns from outer space that turn everyone they bite into clones of the world’s most hated celebrities. — A. Marie Silver
- “Road Trip!” Have a character or characters go somewhere. Get them out of their comfort zone. Shake-up their world by taking them out of it. — Christina Anne Hawthorne
- What’s your main character’s biggest fear? Write a bit about why they’re afraid of that thing. It really helps me.
You can write a scene out of order. That’s my other favorite trick. Good luck! — Jenny Hansen
Have you every hated the story you were writing? What did you do to get over the hate?