Last week I totally hit a wall with my new project. I wasn’t happy with the scene sequence in my outline at that point of the story. I knew it had to change. Something different needed to happen. But what? I spent about three nights rereading the previous chapters and then staring at the blinking cursor.
I kept hearing the Chinese drive-through intercom voice from ‘Dude, Where’s My Car?’ in my head saying ‘Aaand then?’. (I know. I need help.) It was driving me crazy! Inspiration had left me stranded about a hundred pages into the story and although I could hitchhike back to where I started, there was no moving forward.
Eventually what I ended up doing is making a list of things that need to happen at that point in order to move the story along. Then I made a list of things I’d like to see happen- certain characters highlighted, possible scenarios, emotional conflicts, etc... It’s almost like constructing a puzzle- you need all the pieces to fit perfectly so that it doesn’t seem contrived.
I let my list marinate for awhile. Started critiquing some material for a friend. Watched tv. Drank margaritas.
And then yesterday morning it was like the flood gates had opened! I’d found the perfect setting and scenario! It involved all the characters I needed to highlight. I killed two birds with one stone and got the situation exactly where it had to be for future chapters. I wrote the whole ten-page scene in a two-and-a-half-hour mad woman type fest. My fingers were flying. My eyes were unblinking and dilated. I probably looked like I’d been possessed. In the end though, I think it’s probably my favorite scene so far.
Do you ever hit ‘the wall’ in the middle of a project? What kind of things do you do to get over it? (or under it, or through it?;)