How To Overcome Plot Paralysis – Tips From “Piggy Tales”

Photo by katyxcx

Photo by katyxcx

That moment you’ve been dreaded has finally happened. You’ve written scene after scene and there it is right in front of you.

PLOT PARALYSIS!!

Panic sets in and you reach for a chocolate. And another. Until there is an empty bag of M&Ms on your desk, a drained can of Mt. Dew, a paper brick wall that you have tried to knock some sense into yourself with, and a pile of wadded up tissue.

Take a deep breath. We have all been there a time or two. There is hope for plot paralysis when your story is stuck like a pig in muck. Let’s take a look at one stuck pig and see if we can learn a bit about plot paralysis from him.

How To Overcome Plot Paralysis:

*Take a break. Such a small and simple thing and yet the pig losing the game steps away from the game board. The same is true of our stories. When we get too close to them, we just can’t see a solution to the plot dilemma we are facing. Step away and take a break. Return to the story when the panic has abated.

*Look at the problem from different angles. If you have created a situation in which your character is backed into a corner and no decision she makes is believable, then it is time to look at the problem from different angles.

Ask your other character’s advice. What would the hero tell the heroine to do? What would the heroine’s mother tell her to do? What would she have done at the beginning of the story? How has she changed? What will she do now?

Sometimes looking at the plot situation from other characters’ perspectives frees up our mind enough to get out of gridlock.

*Search for things in the periphery that would work to put the plot back on track. If you have run out of obstacles for your character, search through the characters and events that are on the edge of the hero or heroine’s lives  that could cause a new, yet believable obstacle. Susan May Warren often teaches this strategy and I’ve found it to be extremely helpful in my writing.

*Twist the board to create the plot you want. This will create a bit of work to go back and align earlier plot to match the changes you need to make, but if the plot you had rolling wasn’t working it is better to fix it now than later.

It may require the addition of a new character, an additional challenge, or another possible villain. This option is rarely needed, but don’t be afraid of it. It is better to roll up your sleeves and make changes instead of looking at a blank page indefinitely.

What do you do to get out of plot paralysis? 

Other Places To Find Me This Week:

Southern Writers Magazine: Brainstorming Secrets To Build Story Conflict

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About Michelle Lim

Author Michelle Lim is the Brainstorming/Huddle Coach with My Book Therapy Press and the Midwest Zone Director for American Christian Fiction Writers. Michelle’s romantic suspense is represented by Karen Solem of Spencillhill Associates and has gained contest recognition in the Frasier, the Genesis, and the Phoenix Rattler, winning the Genesis in 2015 for her genre. Michelle writes devotionals for The Christian Pulse Online Magazine and Putting On The New. Since her nonfiction book release, Idea Sparking: How To Brainstorm Conflict In Your Novel, through public speaking and online chats Michelle helps writers discover the revolutionary power of brainstorming to bring new life to their stories.

4 thoughts on “How To Overcome Plot Paralysis – Tips From “Piggy Tales”

  1. I twist the board sometimes, shaking clues out of my characters, and just this morning one of them revealed he is a–oops, can’t give away a spoiler. lol Great post. I’ve been using all of these tips lately.

  2. Gail Helgeson says:

    Hi Michelle…getting nervous! I am plotting out my story for November…Trying to fit all the pieces together so that the story makes sense..UGH!!! This is hard!!! What can she do at the end that she can’t do at the beginning? Lots of questions to answer by Nov. 1….Pray for me!!!

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