Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Steering out of a ditch...call in the troops...
I've mentioned some of the benefits of joining a face-to-face critique group here.
One benefit I recently enjoyed is getting help with a "stuck middle."
What do you do when you reach a fork in the road for your character?
I'm a meticulous plotter, yet when I begin writing the characters take over and move the story in their own direction. The imaginary tyrant takes the wheel! She likes to take the back roads. Sometimes she even likes to drive through a local farmers field after a rainstorm. Then "Miss Tyrant" wants ME to pull her out! Suddenly I can be of service to her.
Or the car sits idly by the side of the road after one of the infamous abominable snowstorms in the homestate of "she who must be obeyed." This time I had to call in the forces.
My critique group.
Shamelessly grovel. Call on their amazing word power and plot prowess to help you tow out "Miss Tyrant."
Here are some questions that helped get me through one of my stuck points:
1) What are my characters' options at this point? My critique group shared some options which led me to think of even more options.
2) Where will each option take her?
3) How will each option affect the resolution of my story?
4) Which option does my character have the most motivation to take, given what I know of her as a character?
5) What new obstacle can I put in her way to increase the tension?
After a session of brainstorming I found myself filled with new ideas and seeing my story in a whole new light.
Fortunately, my friends carved ruts in the ditch on their way in and through the grooves I can get back to the main road...or maybe I'll carve my own ruts and head in a new direction, but I'd better hurry up before Miss Tyrant takes the wheel again.