Saturday, August 19, 2017

How does an author invigorate her plot?

When you are stumped on moving a plot line forward, what do you do to reinvigorate your imagination?

Ah! Excellent topic this month, the “stuck” plot. In my experience, when you are “stumped” in your story, it’s because something is wrong with the plot. If you try to analyze what’s wrong, and come up with nothing, it’s time to step away and regroup.
Flee the house and the computer. 
Botanic Garden Montreal

Get into nature with a long walk, maybe someplace new or to your favorite park or Audubon preserve.  There is something about using your own feet to cover ground and look at trees, water, birds, critters or flowers that is a very human experience, by which I mean that people have been doing this—walking through nature for millennia.  No idea why, but it does something to the mind. It loosens it.
Montreal Botanic
   If you’re not a nature lover, visit one of your city’s museums.The paintings are stories made with ink and color, the sculptures tell a story in metal or clay. Photography may also inspire you. Walk around, look at art. Become inspired.

Think about your setting. Is it as vibrant as possible? Is the reader always right in the scene? Could it contribute something new to the story?
View from Whitney Museum New York City

Your characters? Look at people. Listen to them talk. Are your characters fully developed or do they need more work?  
A face with character!
But if you are “stuck,” it’s probably the plot.  If you are a “pantser,” which means writing from the seat of your pants with no outline, jump ahead in the story if you can.  Maybe writing a new scene will inform the one you’re finding so stale. If you have an outline or have sketched out your story, you can jump ahead and write one of the “big” scenes. Really dig into it. You can return to the “stuck” scene later.
Another idea! Do some research. Maybe you don’t know enough about what you are trying to write. Possibly knowing more about the situation (again think setting and characters, too) will help you move forward. 
Congo Mask - MFA Boston

Go to a movie, a good movie, not an “explosion” movie. Find something you would never think to, maybe at an art house.  Let yourself get lost in it.
Yet another idea!  Go to a concert.  I find chamber music or something classical sets my mind loose, but you may prefer pop or rock of country.   
Tanglewood Shed at Concert Time

Maybe the scene you’re stuck on doesn’t really belong in your story.  Can you skip it? Is it in the right point of view?  Visualize it in your head. Is there drama? Conflict? Is the plot moving forward? Or is this just filler that you don’t need?  

Watch Out for Rattlesnakes on Restroom Floor  - San Gabriel Mountains - CA

The writers below also have interesting thoughts on this topic: