I like outlines, but I also like discovering my plots and characters as I go, so I fall somewhere in the middle of the plotter/pantser argument. I outline about half of my stories, sketch out my main character(s) and a handful of side characters, and then let the ending and final conflict put themselves together in the end. This works because usually by the time I reach the three-quarter mark, I’ve got a really good idea of how the rest of the book will go. My present project is no cooperating with this model at all.
Part of me loves this. I am discovering this story as I go, turning over page after page of my own novel in excitement and glee.
Part of me also is getting really tired of sitting down and not having the faintest clue what is going to happen, even though I need to be pulling all the everythings together for one big explosive conclusion.
It’s a lot of work not knowing where I’m going, having to keep track of every little detail I’ve added before in case I might need it to make this story work. The worst/best part is that I am so close to the ending that I can almost taste it. The details are there, and they want to come together, but I can’t see the finale yet. I’m hoping it’ll come together nicely when I’m finished, but there’s also the possibility it will fall completely flat and just turn out to drivel.
So here’s what to do when this happens (according to experience, and various sources on the internet, applied to varying levels of success in this instance):
- Remember it’s just a first draft and if something goes flat there’s a whole lot of other drafts to fix it with.
- Just sit down and type until it comes, and recognize the elusive “it” probably won’t show up until at least 300 straight words have been written.
- Take more Vitamin C, to tackle this runny nose before it really scrambles the plot and turns this book into mush.
- Listen to music! Good for focus, motivation, distraction, whatever is necessary.
- Leave the house, and the blinking cursor behind, because inspiration can strike whenever and being a hermit is not a viable option at this time.
- Take a nap. Sleeplessness occasionally leads to flashes of brilliance, but mostly it just leads to garbage. Being rested puts a new perspective on things.
Most of all, remember that this seemingly hopeless project is almost finished. There will be more struggling but it’s almost done and the novel will be complete. Basically. Minus a bunch of rewriting.
(I am terrible with technology. Most of the time writing this post was spent figuring out how to add the gifs.) (Also, it’s very distracting to look for funny gifs.)