Friday, March 5, 2010

Breakthrough


As I mentioned before, I'm working on a romantic suspense set in the Republic of Congo. I finished chapters six and seven last week, leaving my hero and heroine caught by the warlord chasing them. I knew what I wanted to happen at the end, but I was stuck trying to figure out how to get from the end of chapter seven to the end.

Monday, I sat in front of the computer, trying to sling some words down but no matter what I wrote, it wasn't right. I was at a loss. So what to do? My first instinct is to email my blue diamond buddy, Rachel, and get some input. We've been working together on this submission call. I've helped her with Ring of Lies. She's helped me with Blood Diamond. Remember that technical difficulty I mentioned yesterday? Yeah, no internet. So no asking for help until yesterday.

So, no ideas, no avenue for help. What's a writer to do? Take a break, of course. I put my manuscript aside. I read a couple of books I've bought recently. I watched some TV shows. I basically did just about anything but work on Blood Diamond. Then this morning in the shower, I had a breakthrough.

As I'm shampooing my hair, I'm thinking about how my heroine is a doctor, dedicated to saving lives and helping those less fortunate. Yeah, those damn characters just won't leave me alone until I tell their story. I thought about what she could do that would torture her…er…I mean, let her grow and help them get out of their situation. Then I thought about another seed I'd sown in another chapter, and an idea started to form. Enough of one, anyway, that some quality time with my manuscript will help flesh it out.

So, the moral of the story, when I'm stuck and I can't work through it right away, the best thing I can do is step away completely. My subconscious will do the heavy lifting.

What do you do when you're stuck?

12 comments:

Felicia Holt said...

The same. I take time off. Preferably a few long walks should be involved.

The subconscious is great at solving plot problems. :)

Rachel Lynne said...

I chat with YOU! LOL. I also grab Tiny's leash and head for the pond. A walk along the banks looking for egrets and herons and watching for gators (it's too cold yet: gotta keep on my toes though:) usually lets my subconscious open up and give me the solution.

Molly Evans said...

First, I have to beat myself up one side and down the other for not having the answer just pop into my brain the second I NEED it. Self-flagelation is a must for writers. Then I hork down a box of chocolate, slam a Mocha from Starbucks, fall into a coma on my bed for an hour and then some time, sometimes days later, the answer comes when I'm relaxed and not trying to dig it out of my brain with a pick-axe.
Letting go of the control of the story and allowing the characters to tell me what they need is usually what happens. Usually while I'm half asleep, or half awake, depending whether I'm going down or coming up.
Molly

Skhye said...

Getting on the elliptical and watching National Geographics' TABOO always jars the obstacle for me! Since you're dealing with another culture, the cross-cultural series TABOO just might be your savior. There are at least 2 seasons of 13 episodes each. ;) ~the anthropologist

GPS said...

My breakthroughs usually come in the morning. Those pesky characters must stay in my head all night planting plot seeds. As soon as I wake up lightbulbs go off. I keep a notebook on the night table.

Danica Avet said...

I try not thinking about the problem. Then, when I least expect it (like when I'm brushing my teeth or drying my hair), I have an epiphany. If that doesn't work, I go to my BFF and tell her my problem. She's helped me out of two dead ends so far.

Riley Quinn said...

It seems as though we all pretty much do the same thing. Thanks for the tip, Skhye. I'll have to check out that series. Molly, you seriously had me laughing out loud when I read your comment. Thank goodness I didn't have any liquid in my mouth. My keyboard is new. Thanks, everyone, for sharing what works for you.

Mary Ricksen said...

It will come to you! Everyone has a block occasionally.

Debra St. John said...

Taking a break is a good plan and one I employ if I'm really stuck. And as crazy as it sounds, sometimes I step away from the computer and break out the old fashioned pen and paper. For some reason, this helps to get me past certain sticking points.

Anonymous said...

Actually, all of my breakthroughs seem to come when I'm in the shower. Maybe because I'm a Pisces or maybe because I live in New Mexico and water is precious in the desert, but water does it for me.

Louise B

Denise said...

Wow! Glad I stopped by and read your post and the comments. Got lots of good suggestions. I love the chocolates, mocha and nap routine, Molly. And showers! Pretty universal. Something about clean bodies, clean minds--no wait, maybe that's not it so much as washing away the old S*** to make room for new. Strains of South Pacific - I'm gonna wash that *block* right outta my hair. Me, think I'm gonna sleep on it!

Jae Lynne Davies said...

When I'm faced with similar blocks, I take my kids for a walk or dive into some good reads from my TBR pile. It really helps me to purge the frustration in my mind that way. When the fog clears, creativity flows again.

Jae Lynne

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