Re: Written myself into a corner

#1
Sooooo, I have a bit of a problem. I kinda wrote myself into a corner, to the point where my original idea went a completely different direction and now i have no idea how to get out of it or even try to salvage it without it being more effort than it is worth(not really). Basically I [email protected] up so bad, I don't even know what the hell to do anymore and there is no way out except for maybe revolver nothing coming to mind. peolaughing

How do most people deal with situations like that? Besides, maybe uprooting everything or abandon all ships (which doesn't seem too bad right now).

Re: Written myself into a corner

#2
Yeah, sometimes it's difficult to control exactly where your plot goes. The best way I know is by plotting the major things you want to have in your story before beginning, then again for each chapter before sitting down to write. As for how to fix it after the damage is done... a long and laborious editing process. Good thing is, a lot of the scenes you've already written can be repurposed or recycled for use later on.

Re: Written myself into a corner

#3
I've got a couple things that I do to try and help with this. First is preventative. I've just got a bullet list of all major plot points that I want to hit and tie together. I can get new entries that come in for subplots. That seems to be my issue of adding too many in that could cause and issue.

Secondly, which is more pertinent to your case. Start off by writing down each character, group or entity. Identify what tools they have.
Look at your list from one and look at where you are at and see if anyone can help with only a minor Deus Ex Machina.

Similarly, see if there are other forces in the world that could push the narrative back into the right direction? Having not read your work and only the synopsis and the title. Can there be a governing body? Anti-virus patch or other source of conflict that could add to the sub-plot and push things back in line?

I guess, does the issue stem with relationships, fundamentals of the world?
If you can realize where you might have made the mistake, go fix that and in your next chapter, post that there was an update to chapters x,y,z. Most readers will be forgiving, the stories are often works in progress and you'll be forgiven by those that you need.

Or just say fck it and go where the story leads you! My best thinking comes on the cusp of sleeping and waking up. that is the only time when I can flesh out my own story line in my head...

Re: Written myself into a corner

#4
This is why you don't write by the seat of your pants.  Those people who say "some people plan, some don't" are full of it.  Your story will be ten times better if you plan it out ahead of time.  This sort of thing wouldn't be possible in a planned out story.  

The only thing I'm surprised about here is that you admitted you wrote yourself into a corner.  Most authors just quietly quit writing once they figure that out.  

Best suggestion, start over with a new story and admit what happened to your readers. They'll be a little annoyed, but at least you were honest with them.  

You aren't going to do that much editing unless you have super human willpower to stay motivated.  Editing is a grueling process and kills anything fun in writing.  And the further in a corner you've written yourself, the less original material you can reuse.  Unless you do a total rewrite, you are pretty much just going to ruin your fiction trying to patch everything.  

Here's the good part, since you are in a corner, your audience probably realizes it as well.  At least subconsciously.  They've probably stopped caring too much about your series and won't mind if you tell them "this one is dead".  

I'd recommend against a rewrite.  Old readers will lose interest because they'd have to reread basically the same fiction to understand anything.  It's just not worth it.  

Re: Written myself into a corner

#5

DarkD Wrote: This is why you don't write by the seat of your pants.  Those people who say "some people plan, some don't" are full of it.  Your story will be ten times better if you plan it out ahead of time.  This sort of thing wouldn't be possible in a planned out story.  

The only thing I'm surprised about here is that you admitted you wrote yourself into a corner.  Most authors just quietly quit writing once they figure that out.  

Best suggestion, start over with a new story and admit what happened to your readers. They'll be a little annoyed, but at least you were honest with them.  

You aren't going to do that much editing unless you have super human willpower to stay motivated.  Editing is a grueling process and kills anything fun in writing.  And the further in a corner you've written yourself, the less original material you can reuse.  Unless you do a total rewrite, you are pretty much just going to ruin your fiction trying to patch everything.  

Here's the good part, since you are in a corner, your audience probably realizes it as well.  At least subconsciously.  They've probably stopped caring too much about your series and won't mind if you tell them "this one is dead".  

I'd recommend against a rewrite.  Old readers will lose interest because they'd have to reread basically the same fiction to understand anything.  It's just not worth it.

I mean yeah, I tend to have a plan but it usually flies out the window like a 7 year old ADHD kid that's been snorting pure sugar cane. It's the reason why I feel like I wrote myself into a corner in the first place, cause I just can't seem to stick to the plan.  peolaughing


I get what you mean though and it make sense, as well as the rest of the advices.

Personally, you wouldn't believe (or you might actually) the amount of time I just want to say fugg it and just run away from all the story and stuff. I wonder myself what people do to keep interest in their work cause I tend to be at every sentence, I would give up and just watch tv. I keep coming back because I just feel it wouldn't be right to just give up, until it really feels like there's no point.

I'm sure that's any day now. DrakanFascinating

Re: Written myself into a corner

#7
Like the other responses, I mostly deal with this by planning out the major story beats (plot points) for each book in advance, as well as for the overall series. And I have a power progression mapped out for every major character, linking character growth by book.

The story beats are locked in stone--those are what drive the entire series. Character power progression can change in small ways as I write (e.g., bump an ability from one book either up a book or down a book, if needed), but in general, it needs to stay mostly consistent so that I don't run into any unanticipated issues in other books (where I was expecting an ability to either be absent or present).

The other thing that can change over time is the small scenes. I only planned out the major story beats at the start of the series. Then when I start a new book in the series, I sketch out rough ideas for the individual scenes that will get me to each story beat, but I don't lock those individual scenes in stone. They might change as I write. For example, I might delete one if it's unnecessary or too boring.

The only time that a change really affects my story is when I realize that a planned encounter is negated by the party's power progression (or occasionally because the actions don't match the characters' personalities). I might have been planning a scene for a book and a half, but when I get to it, I realize it's pointless because, for example, the druid in the party might be able to eliminate a threat before it becomes a threat. At that point, I have to decide whether to get rid of the scenes involved, increase the threat level, or write it in a way that corresponds to how the party would actually act (which might be very different than the original plan, but the new version might work even better).

But those are small, individual scenes. Changing them doesn't have much impact on the overall storyline.

If you've written your entire storyline into a corner, that would be a lot harder to fix. The best advice I can give is to say: "Given the current scenario in the story, how would my characters actually act? Can I turn that into a storyline that I want to write?"

It doesn't necessarily have to match your original storyline, but it has to be a story you want to tell.

If you can't do that, then you've got to backtrack and figure out how much you'd need to change to undo the part that got you stuck. And if you can't do that either, then it might be time to give up.

But don't be too quick to make the decision to give up. Sleep on it for a while (at least a week or two). Just as giving yourself some time between one round of revision and the next can give you a better way of wording your edits, it can also give you new ideas on how to fix your plot.

Re: Written myself into a corner

#8
There are plenty of people who do a rewrite, and I respect them for it. If you want to scrap a bunch of chapters and take it into another direction from there, do it. However much you're writing for the readers, in the end it's your novel. Your own satisfaction and enjoyment should always come first or it will quickly become unsustainable.

But try to stick to your plan next time around.

Personally, though my novel is very slow paced, I have mile points I'm writing towards, things that have to occur before I can move to the next. With those in mind, every chapter is a preparation or a step towards those moments or goals. If there is no relevant development in the characters or a step up to the plot, something went wrong

Re: Written myself into a corner

#9
OK, I've been writing stream of consciousness for almost six months, at almost a million words (800K+ and counting) with quite often multiple 2K+ word chapters a day.

It can be VERY easy to get turned around and loose sight of the end of the story and where you are going.

If that happens, simply go back and reread the WHOLE story. Take notes. See what character arcs got dropped or twisted, see what subplots got ignored or dropped, see what plot threads are still remaining. Take notes on it all.

Now, start expanding on the plot points, start working on character arcs (DON'T introduce more problems and/or characters), breathe some life into the locations and your setting.

The whole time, steer back into your plot.

Writing can be like white water rafting. Always remember which way the river flows and work with it, not against it.

Re: Written myself into a corner

#10

Ralts Wrote: OK, I've been writing stream of consciousness for almost six months, at almost a million words (800K+ and counting) with quite often multiple 2K+ word chapters a day.

It can be VERY easy to get turned around and loose sight of the end of the story and where you are going.

If that happens, simply go back and reread the WHOLE story. Take notes. See what character arcs got dropped or twisted, see what subplots got ignored or dropped, see what plot threads are still remaining. Take notes on it all.

Now, start expanding on the plot points, start working on character arcs (DON'T introduce more problems and/or characters), breathe some life into the locations and your setting.

The whole time, steer back into your plot.

Writing can be like white water rafting. Always remember which way the river flows and work with it, not against it.



This is the best solution I have seen by far. 

Honestly, I am against planning it too far as sometimes you get a brilliant idea mid writing and you just know it needs to be read.

While I have not written much, I have read a lot. One of the best recovery ways of a plot far too twisted and complex for your goals is a nuke.

You can nuke it in two ways, either a rewrite or simply forcing the story back onto the road by a long-forgotten character who should have been insignificant. But remember when you have called on that character for help not to kill him so fast. Make him leave a mark on your story. 

I am curious about how you have gotten so far off the trodden planned path of yours.

Re: Written myself into a corner

#12

Talo Wrote: Nobody writes themselves into a corner, you only think that because you can't see a way out. It's a challenge and an exercise in non-linear thinking. Define the problem and brain storm the solutions. Brain storming is noting any solutions, however weird, that come into your head. See what's best. There is always a way out.



That...is actually a very interesting and reassuring thought. It makes sense and really gives me a new insight to all this.

Re: Written myself into a corner

#15

I used to do this to myself all the time. What I started doing some years ago was to keep a running outline.  It still was a mess but I was constantly reviewing and changing where the story was heading.

That said, now I use Scrivener. It's introduced me to planning a story out with a corkboard and cards. I write on the card a very short summary of what I'm going to reveal in a chapter. I can then easily change the order of the cards and modify what is important. The nice thing with Scrivener is that the cards end up attached to the chapters you write. It's a great way to keep your ideas organized.

Re: Written myself into a corner

#16
JTaKeo Wrote: Sooooo, I have a bit of a problem. I kinda wrote myself into a corner, to the point where my original idea went a completely different direction and now i have no idea how to get out of it or even try to salvage it without it being more effort than it is worth(not really).


I don't know if it applies to you, but I've realized thinking about stories there is one thing to consider:

A story needs many ideas to fit together. Making a fixed set of ideas fit together is practically impossible. To get something that fits together, you have to disregard some ideas, add other ones, recombine them differently until you have something that works together. This process gets harder the more fixed points you have.

When you create some story, you usually start with some idea starting it and then add ideas around this original idea to fill it to a story, make it believable or otherwise fill it. If you do so, you usually end up with an extremely strong reluctance to abandon that original idea, even when when the story constructed around it makes so much more sense or can be made so much better without it.

In that case just remember that you are not your original idea. That idea might be better done justice by saving it for later and first create a good story from the other elements first.

Re: Written myself into a corner

#18
I don't think there's a magic bullet for that.  If you need to rewrite something for the sake of telling a story, you do.  If you don't have a story, (a plot) now might be the time to sketch one out so you know what to correct, if nothing else.  As has been mentioned, any material you need to remove or drastically change can be saved aside for use in other work,  so is not necessarily wasted time and effort.

Re: Written myself into a corner

#19
I don't think there's a magic bullet for that.  If you need to rewrite something for the sake of telling a story, you do.  If you don't have a story, (a plot) now might be the time to sketch one out so you know what to correct, if nothing else.  As has been mentioned, any material you need to remove or drastically change can be saved aside for use in other work,  so is not necessarily wasted time and effort.

Re: Written myself into a corner

#20
Hey... I'm jumping in WITHOUT reading everything that went before, but that happened to me too on a very large, complex novel I'm working on. Heeding some advicefrom my writer's group in LA, where I was living at the time,   I closed my eyes and called an imaginary meeting with the cast of the novel stating my problem. Soon, the main characters roughed out some action that was entirely new to me and better than what I'd started with. 

Some people aren't good at this sort of imaginary thing... like my ex-wife, who'd probably have fallen asleep. And since I've been told that characterization is my writing strength, it makes sense that it would work for me. But now I use the technique a lot and the results are always dope. 

Plus, it seems effortless. Less hashing stuff out, more just relaxing to let your creative juices flow. 

Hope this helps.