I’ve been working on a story that I adore. The characters are fun to hang out with, the setting makes me happy, the topics fascinate me. And I was rocking the first chapters. You know that feeling, right?
Then the brain chipmunks got out of their cage and took off with my brilliant story ideas. I typed and deleted more than I’d typed. The harder I pushed, the more convoluted the story became.
Pound. Head. On. Keyboard.
So, what’s a writer to do? Yup, I did what any self-respecting, on-deadline author does … I futzed away the rest of the day on Facebook.
But, spoiler alert (you read the title of the post, right?), it wasn’t a waste of a day. Au contraire mon ami!
And here’s why …
I wasn’t looking for anything.
A lot of times when we’re stuck on a plot point or have a character who isn’t cooperating, we knot and re-knot the loose threads of the story in a desperate attempt to keep everything from unraveling. We poke and prod, twist and bend. We play the what-if game. We force a square character down a round rabbit hole. And we end up more frustrated than when we started.
Now, I have a confession. I’m not on Facebook that much these days. I spend the time I need for promotion but I tend to get on for what I need and not linger. That wasn’t always the case but I realized that the more time I spent on social media, the harder it was to stay focused and positive. Oh wait, that’s not the point of this blog (what was that about focus?).
But that day, I hung out. I scrolled through my feed, clicked on story links (no, I didn’t take any of those quizzes, don’t panic), watched videos, chatted with friends, posted silly pictures of my cats. It was actually, rather fun.
Then I went on with my evening. My son had climbing team practice, dinner had to be prepared, laundry needed to be folded, cats insisted on being fed.
As I was futzing about, one video from early in the day, kept replaying in my head. It wasn’t a thread I’d entertained for this story but suddenly there it was, THE missing piece that tied the whole thing together. It totally flipped my idea about one of the characters and how the book would end, but this made sense. The story suddenly had a secondary plot line that made it so much stronger.
The following day, I cranked through the synopsis and had a blast writing it. Crazy, right?! And my SWIP (stalled work in progress) is now chugging along again.
This is not a hall-pass to go play on Facebook for the rest of the day. But next time you’re stuck or stressing over a story thread that isn’t working, let the brain chipmunks loose and follow where they take you … they may show you the awesome story nuts are stashed.
What’s your go-to for untangling plot knots?
After years in the corporate world (most of it in the space industry), Orly Konig took a leap into the creative world of fiction. She is the founding president of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, an active member of the Tall Poppy Writers, and a quarterly contributor to the Writers in the Storm and Thinking Through Our Fingers blogs.