Thursday, February 2, 2012

Writing Yourself Into A Corner

You remember those TV shows. When the plot gets thicker and thicker with more twists and turns than a winding road. Suddenly the camera goes fuzzy and we see the hero in bed struggling to wake up. It was all a dream.

My mother used to see these shows and say, "That writer really wrote themselves into a corner." Which means that he couldn't solve his own plot so he (or she) contrived the dream to get out of it.

Writing oneself into a corner happens in books, too. It's when you have good tension, then say, kill off one character, pouf! the tensions gone. But everything in your plot up til then wants, demands that you kill off your character. How do you avoid this?

One way is to have your whole plot down to a tee before you start, the problem is, as there are two kinds of painters. Tidy or messy. There are two types of writers. Those that set everything out beforehand and those who just sit in front of their computer and make it all up from their head as they go. So how does the second type get out of a mess?

I find the best way is to work 'in the round'. Get your first chapter done and critiqued. As you're critiquing it, write your second chapter. In your first critique, they'll tell you if they like your character and how you can improve him/ her. This is so you won't go off on a tangent or forget what your character is like.

Crit the second chapter with an eye to making it blend with the first as all good books must blend. Then straighten everything, character, plot etc up for the two chapters. This reminds you at all times of what you have written first and will keep you in line.

Of course when you've re-written your first and are critting your second, write your third and so on. That way, you don't or shouldn't have to go back and change everything. If you do get to a point where you  hit a brick wall or can't go on, if you aren't writing 'in the round' you'll have to go back and re-write from the start.

Well, that's just my advice and it's only for long books. Write, crit, re-write, write, crit, re-write. Good luck with you own writing and you can visit me on my blog:   leave a comment if you like and check out my e-book. The Mountain City Bronzes at MuseItUp Publishing, it's only 99 cents.


Wendy said...

Good time saving advice Madeleine.
If you know how the characters get out of their difficulties to begin with you, can always vamp up the difficulties as you write. Then you can even change the ending if you want, and surprise yourself.
I enjoyed your post.

Pat Dale said...

Interesting concept; quite alien from the way I write, but intriguing. Goes to show there are as many ways to write a book as there are authors. My advice is to do what works for you and don't worry about systems. I just finished the second in a series of mysteries and it turned out totally different than my original concept, but it is spot on for where the series needed to move.