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Discussion What do you do when your stuck?

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction and Writing Resource' started by Kit', Jan 6, 2020.

  1. Kit'

    Kit' Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Oct 30, 1999
    So I’m stuck on a plot point of a story and I do t know what to do. Normally is just keep writing and see where it leads but this is one of those hinge points that if you get wrong will mean too many door close and the right ones won’t open.

    So I was wondering what does everyone do when they get stuck like that? Do you only write once you’ve got all the kinks worked out? Do you plot and plan or do you just go ‘stuff it’ and see where it takes you (and later plot issues be damned?)


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  2. Mistress_Renata

    Mistress_Renata Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 9, 2000
    This, usually. I like to have the first draft before I post, specifically for this. On occasion I've broken this rule, and it hasn't ended up well. I try to do a bit of plotting and I like to know where I'm going specifically, so that I can make everything logically point in the right direction. You don't get the instant gratification of feedback, but you don't have the pressure of knowing that people are waiting for the next installment when you are stuck.
     
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  3. gizkaspice

    gizkaspice Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Nov 27, 2013
    I like to plot and plan a lot and do multiple drafts and revisions, usually on paper first to figure things out. I make sure I have some kind of narrative arc first and then figure out alternative plot points when I'm really stuck. And taking a a bit of a break helps to refresh the mind as well.
     
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  4. Briannakin

    Briannakin Grand Moff Darth Fanfic & Costuming/Props Manager star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Feb 25, 2010
    Interesting discussion.

    My muse pretty much only gives me vignettes and short stories these days (which I'm still loving, though I am going to try to pick back up a multi-chapter story this year - more on that below), but back when I did do longer epics, the amount I planned and plotted before hand really was dependant on the type of story. I almost always (with exceptions) wrote with an ending in mind. Some stories I just "pantsed" (meaning I wrote by the seat of my pants) - and I was able to do that with my more romance or family drama type stories. My more in-depth plot stories I did like to have a vague outline with kinks worked out before I started writing. In either case I made sure I had plenty of buffer and I knew exactly where I was going and how to get there before I began posting.

    In general when I get stuck I ask myself how I want the story to end, and how I want/need the scene to end. One thing I've recently been doing that has helped in a number of situations is I go back and re-write the scene that I'm stuck on from a different prospective - like I'll try to get into a different character's head (if applicable).

    Another thing that I've thought of doing and I'm going to try it on a fic I'VE BEEN STUCK ON FOR YEARS. I'm going to just try to write through a scene no matter how clunky or awkward it feels. I know what needs to happen in the scene and what information the audience needs from the dialogue and I just need to have this horribly weird chapter just be horribly clunky to get beyond it and get where I need to go to get on with the story I want to tell. Not every scene, chapter, or plot needs to be flawless. We are just a bunch of hobbyist writers and I need to remind myself that not every scene will feel totally smooth and natural.
     
  5. devilinthedetails

    devilinthedetails Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jun 19, 2019
    Great topic! I think every author has struggled with that dreaded feeling of writer's block surrounding a key plot point. I have a handful of strategies I've developed over time to cope with this pernicious form of writer's block. Hopefully one or more might be helpful to others at some point in their writing careers:

    1) Exercise the body to exercise the brain. Sometimes it helps if I go for a brisk walk on the treadmill or around the block with the dog--I can sort of ruminate over the plot point I'm struggling as I exercise--and sometimes the speed and the energy boost give me the inertia to push through the writer's block. Mind and body can be surprisingly connected for me so exercising my body can sometimes jumpstart a solution to a plot problem for my brain.

    2) Give my mind some healthy fuel. Sometimes I've been staring at a blank screen or page too long. Grabbing a meal or healthy snack can give me the boost I need to solve the problem.

    3) Solve the problem by not thinking about the problem. Sounds counter-intuitive but in my experience, my brain truly does continue to think about problems without me being aware of it, and so sometimes I do come up with my best ideas taking a shower or after I've given my mind a break from the story. Sometimes the best way to generate a creative solution to a problem is for me to not think about it but sort of let it marinate in my mind for awhile.

    4) Consider why my block exists. Sometimes a writer's block around a particular plot point may indicate a problem with my plot, story structure, or character. Perhaps my character has grown so this plot point no longer suits him or her, or this plot point would now feel forced in the current story even if I had been planning it for awhile. In a case like that, I'd try to come up with an action that fits the character better or a plot point that seems to evolve out of the story more naturally.

    5) Re-reading what I already wrote. That can sometimes re-immerse me in the story and give me a solution I wouldn't have considered otherwise.

    6) Turning on music to inspire my muse. Sometimes if I turn on music that fits the scene I'm trying to write, that can be very inspirational.

    I know it may seem like very little of that has to do directly with the writing process, but for me the techniques can be inspirational and can spark my creativity, which is why I share them in the hope they might help somebody else with a similar creative style as me:)
     
  6. DarthIshtar

    DarthIshtar Force Ghost star 9

    Registered:
    Mar 26, 2001
    Something that I’ve found helpful for myself is to come up with three ways the next part can proceed and see if any of them works better than the others. And sometimes, one of the three actually comes up with a different tack.
     
  7. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host Who Loves Fanfics & RPGs star 7

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    I find the following strategies helpful:
    * Elaborate on the scene through dialogue and then fill in the blanks later.

    * Think of a couple of ways to get from point A to point B and then think which would be more fun/in character.

    * I like to have a general outcome for the overall story in mind but also plot specifically chapter by chapter -- then when I get to a certain point I ask: OK, is this a good natural break for the chapter to end?

    * What's really helpful is to write the scene before or after the problematic one and that usually untangles the middle one. @};-
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2020
  8. Kit'

    Kit' Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Oct 30, 1999
    Thanks guys. Have ended up mapping part of it out and not trying to push myself to make it perfect the first time.


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  9. Kit'

    Kit' Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Oct 30, 1999
    Well it worked! Thanks guys. Finally unstuck and now I've got lots of great tips for next time it happens too @};-^:)^
     
  10. SynCrow

    SynCrow Jedi Knight star 1

    Registered:
    Jan 7, 2017
    I like to plan everything out before I even begin, and then make alterations to the story while writing if it seems better than what I've planned. I like to get the bare bones of the story during the first draft, and then draft two is normally sprucing up dialogue, checking for mistakes, and double-checking the plot actually makes sense.

    If I get stuck on a plot point that takes me too long to figure out, I either change the plot slightly so that the specific plot point isn't a problem, or scrap the story and start re-planning with elements of the first idea included in. If I'm getting stuck, normally my enthusiasm for the story begins dwindling, so I often have to act quickly to make sure this doesn't happen, so quite often the plots I have will be discarded and re-worked.
     
  11. Chancellor_Ewok

    Chancellor_Ewok Force Ghost star 7

    Registered:
    Nov 8, 2004
    I generally don’t have the problem of getting stuck, actually. The basic set up the story that I have been writing for the past nine months hinges on the protagonist being stuck in a hurricane of chaos and constantly having to deal with random insanity. I find that I tend to get mentally tired more than anything else.
     
  12. GregMcP

    GregMcP Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 7, 2015
    Walk the dog...
    Last night I was stewing on a story while walking the streets and letting the dog pee on things.
    I know how the story starts and I have key moments and where I want it to end, but the glue in between just wasn't convincing.

    The Why was missing. The ability for the protagonist to push things in the right direction was missing.

    It needed an extra element. And now I have figured out what that is, the story will be a whole lot more fun.

    Perhaps that's something to consider. Expand the world a bit. Add something unexpected.
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2020