When the Plot Thins

Which way do you go?

So, I am new to this whole writing a YA novel gig.  Less than a year in now. (Although I think I have spent at least as much time reading and following all the awesome writerly blogs out there!)  For those of you who followed me before you’ll see my blog has transformed from a-day-in-the-life of a crazed mother of 4 who clearly needed to get out more, to a writer’s home.  It’s all good.

So, writing.  The idea for my ms. has been bouncing around my head for a long time.  When I finally decided it was time to write it, I started out by outlining the big picture.  Then I broke it out by chapter with a bit of detail in each.  Next I fleshed out the chapters with the who/what/why.  Only then did I start writing one scene at a time, thinking through the details as my fingers flew across the keyboard.

But as the story came to life it became complicated.  The lines weaving through grew more elaborate.  The characters in my book became real people (to me).  Things were going fine for a while.  But then the plot got thin.  My story hit a wall, or rather my characters were running along until the ground fell out from under them and then they were pinwheeling like Wile E. Coyote, hanging in midair.

Something wasn’t working.  The reasons for their actions were not big enough; more needed to be at stake for the story to move in the direction I needed it to go.  If I had read to this point in someone else’s book I would have said, “But wait, if that is the case, why can’t they just do this?”  As a reader, I would have been pulled out of the book and felt cheated by an easy way out.

As a writer, I see the need for the change and sit a while to mull over the possibilities.  Once I am ready to make a go of it, it is not a simple change on the current page.  Of course I have to build the change into the early pages and then iron out the ripples that my change has sent through the rest of the story.  It is a humbling process, but I am finding it to be a necessary one for me.  I think it is improving my story, I hope so at least.

This weekend I hit another thin spot and have been smoothing out the ripples from another necessary change.  It is a slow process that fascinates me.  How do you discover/work through changes that must be made in your story?  Do you stop and go back like I do?  Do you make some notes about your change and just continue on as if they are already made?  Do you save the file and never open it again?

I am curious to know.

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