Wednesday, August 5, 2009


My new novel is stuck. It refuses to budge. Nothing seems to be working. I’m halfway up the hubcaps in mud, and I can’t even spin my wheels anymore.

What should I do? What can I do? Something is not right at the story’s start. The tension and pace grind to a stop almost immediately. How can I get this story going again?

I'm desperate. I need conflict. Time for a brainstorm, the kind that throws anything and everything on the page:

Elephant stampede. Exploding helicopters. Mysterious, mystical man. Secret organizations. Jilted lovers. Insane race car drives, Herbie-style.

Dreamers and psychics. Teddy bears (don’t ask me what they have to do with conflict). Villians. Murderers. Deadly virus. Famine.

Portals. Faerie blood. Alien races. Other worlds. Genetic manipulation. Sorcery and witchcraft. Magic. Telepathy. Healing. Tongues.

Broken swords. Ancient prophecies. Future wars. Impossible Odds. House of Scorpion.
Mission: Impossible. Power struggle. Life, lust, power, pride, and money. Fruit of the Spirit. The Seven Deadly Sins.

Spaceships. Visions. Splitting of spiritual dimensions. Open doors. Closed doors. Open windows. Spirit and body. Silver cord. Green Acres. The mailman.

Psycho. Graveyards. Vampires. Demons. Zombies. Dragons. Raising the dead. Fountain of youth. Wisdom. Cities of gold. City of Ember.

Am I going in circles yet?!

Wheels. Wagons going west. Cowboys and Indians. India. Priests. Blood sacrifice. Child sacrifice.

Races. Ticking clocks. Ticking bombs. Time bombs. Suicide bombers. Terrorism. Tigers. And bears and lions—oh my!

Scarves. Disguises. Secrets. Hidden lives. Past lives. Double lives. Double agents. Double agents that aren’t. (Mrs. Pollifax) Murder, She Wrote. Grand theft. Trunks. Elephant stampede.

There’s the problem. I don’t need to brainstorm any old tension. My inciting incident is off. So what can I use as an inciting event? Back to the drawing board:

Job loss, job promotion, special project, wealth lost, wealth inherited, and then there’s always that good old elephant stampede when all else fails, never mind there aren’t any elephants close…


Rachel Starr Thomson said...

Did you read Becky Miller's post the other day on being stuck in a swamp?

A lot of us seem to be in this position; I've written about thirty pages of The Advent (third book in my trilogy) but it still hasn't taken shape. Tis frustrating.

Brandon said...

Sometimes all you have to do is add a new character who surprises you. The possibilities for this character are limitless...but the characters one purpose is to bring some added tension.
That's helped me in a few spots...because I know what you mean about getting stuck. Without that interesting character to drive the story, everything feels laborious.

Chawna Schroeder said...

Thanks, Rachel, for letting me I'm not alone in this. Sometimes I forget that I'm hardly the first one to face this frustration. :O)

And thanks for the advice, Brandon. I am trying something similiar to your interesting character suggestion. I don't know if it's working yet, but I think it's a step in the right direction.
I hope. :o)