Friday, July 27, 2007

Painting yourself into a corner...and how to escape

Have you ever created a situation--for your characters, of course--so sticky, so impossible to get out of, that you drop into reader mode and think Wow! How are they ever going to get out of that?

And then reality slaps you hard in the face when it comes time to write the scene. You sit there, staring at the screen blankly. Thinking, Damn. How are they ever going to get out of that? And you don't know. You have no idea. Everything that comes to you seems like cheating, pulling a trick on the readers. You know better than to have a deus ex machina, because you wouldn't want to read one. You could back up a few steps and make it easier...but what would be the fun of that? Do you want your character's struggles to seem easy, meaningless? Of course not. You know very well that for a triumph to be important to the readers it has to be critical to the characters. It has to come through struggle and hardship and sacrifice.

So what do you do? As the writer/goddess, you do have the luxury of being able to go to earlier parts of the book and plant clues, if you need to, for something to help solve the current problem. And that might work--if you only could figure out what the best solution to the problem WAS.

This is where I am today. I set it up, so it's my own fault--and I must say the situation is pretty good. Darn near impossible to do what they need to do, and not succeeding just isn't an option. But now I've got to fix it, help them succeed in spite of the obstacles.

Fortunately I'm not worried, because this has happened to me lots of times before, and I know what I need to do. First chance I get I have a date with my writing journal, where I will throw out ALL aspects of the situation and all the options, sort through them, and start suggesting creative ideas. Most of them will be ridiculous, but one of them will stick. And then, fellow writers, will come that wonderful AHA moment, when every little piece falls into place as though you meant it to happen like that all along.

Because you did, right? Sure. You planned it that way. So did I. {cough}

13 comments:

Carol said...

Oooh, sounds like a great place to be. I know you'll come up with something fabulous that the reader never expected.

Susan Adrian said...

Carol:

I soooo did! Yay! Happy dance!

Jen said...

Susan,

Cool post. Hmm, I can't say I've ever been in this situation. LOL. Hopefully I've created a couple of those moments for readers, but when something big happens, I usually know how my characters will get out.

It sounds like fun, though. (g) A hard puzzle or something.

Jen

Carol said...

Susan,

You tease! I'm dying for details, but I know how this works, I'll wait. (sigh)

It was exciting when you figured it out though, wasn't you? I think those kinds of moments are as big a thrill to the author as to the reader.

sqeeee, happy dance with you.

Cindy said...

Hi Suze:
Very cool, sounds like fun! My whole climax is a mystery to me so far, but it's early days yet. I have some idea, of course, but I'm not sure. This MC doesn't lke to be tied down.

btw, I'm in your links twice. S'okay with me, but I thought I'd mention...

It's so good to see this WIP going well for you.

Susan Adrian said...

Jen:

You've never put them in a conflict you didn't know the way out of? I knew it. You're secretly an outliner. {G}

(you must try it; it's fun!)

Susan Adrian said...

Carol:

Yes, it was exciting. I do love writing sometimes.

And there'd be no point in telling you what I did anyway--it's so deep in the book it wouldn't make any sense out of context. {s}

Susan Adrian said...

Cindy:

Oh, my final climax is still a mystery to me too. I know the whole next bit, though, which is rare. {g}

And thanks for pointing out about the links! I had you twice and I dropped poor Carol accidentally. {sigh} All better now...

Carol said...

Hi Susan,
I noticed, (sniff) but didn't want to say anything. (sniff) Thanks for bringing me back in. (VBG)

Susan Adrian said...

Carol:

I'm so sorry! Complete accident. :)

Jen said...

Susan,

GAK! NO. (g) The outline I did for D.A. just about killed me. Not my preferred way to write at all -- and I'm wondering if the end product will look anything like what I sent him. lol.

I think it's just that when something particularly harsh comes up, I tend to skip to "how will I get them out of this" -- Just to make sure there IS a way. LOL.

It sounds like a great deal of fun, btw. Now I'm worried that my big moments/escapes are too easy...hmm, must look at them. (g)

Jen

angeliz2k said...

ahh, I knoew how to get out of these situations! Deus ex machina saves the day again! *wink wink*

Susan Adrian said...

Angeliz:

No, no! No deus ex machina!!! ;)