So I haven’t done any sort of post on writing lately. The good news is that this is mainly due to the fact that I’ve been too busy with actual writing. I’m seven chapters in to the rough draft of A Dragon at the Gate (possibly eight, depending on how I break it up). Things were moving along pretty well there for a while, but then I hit a snag.
I suppose “snag” is the wrong term for it. Essentially I wrote as far as I could go before I needed to stop and figure some things out about certain characters’ plans and things going on in the background. In short, I need to do some more outlining.
I usually work from a step sheet that lists, briefly, how events and character arcs fit together. I’ve got an overall step sheet for ADATG, and as I write each chapter I’ll create another sheet that goes into more detail. One example: The main step sheet for a certain chapter in A Memory in the Black (spoiler warning) might say something like “Suuthrien takes over the system and in the ensuing chaos Marette puts herself in harm’s way to keep anyone else from getting hurt.” The more detailed one would then list exactly how Suuthrien takes over and the logistics of the ensuing chaos. I suppose, were it a movie, that would be storyboarding.
So that’s…sort of where I am now, except I’m also having to figure out just what’s happened previously that the reader hasn’t seen. Minor spoilers for A Dragon at the Gate: After the first chapter or two, the story jumps ahead a few months. Numerous developments have occurred at this point, and how the story goes forward depends on exactly how those events unfolded. Furthermore, a couple of characters have some complex plans that I need to solidify in my mind so that I can better inform their agendas, how they’ll react, and how those plans collide with each other.
Essentially, I’m scheming.
I usually write on a laptop, but in the planning stages, sometimes that doesn’t quite work. I don’t know what it is about working with pen and paper, but it seems to open additional avenues in my brain. Perhaps different neural pathways are stimulated that leads to additional creativity. I’m not entirely sure. My point is that I was stuck for a while trying to do all this scheming in a spreadsheet. That’s good for organization, but I think it was too rigid for the ideas to fully flow, so this is what I did yesterday:
|(Intentionally blurred and redacted so as not to let you know too much…)|
So I suppose what all this rambling boils down to is a tip: If you find yourself stuck, change the physical method by which you write. It might just be what you need to get yourself out of a rut.