Some writers talk about times when they find they’ve “written themselves into a corner,” and what to do about it. For me, it feels more like having written my way step-by-step into the dark heart of a thicket in which malevolent logic vines are rising up and choking my poor benighted plot to death no matter which way it turns. What’s a fiction writer to do to save her benighted protagonist?
One trick I learned many years ago at the Clarion Writers Workshop was to think of a couple of solutions and jot them down in a list. These are usually either obvious approaches astute readers will expect, or obvious failures, or both. So then I add to the list a minimum of four other possibilities. It’s a form of brainstorming. If I can come up with more, so much the better. Invariably, it’s #5 or #6 or #7 on the list that has real potential. But rather than starting to hack and slash at the thicket like a mad woman, I set it all aside for at least 24 hours, usually longer if I can. I need the perspective that time will give me to look over those options again before taking metaphorical machete in hand. But alas, sometimes there simply isn’t a way out of a particular plot thicket. Sometimes I just have to go back several scenes or more and save my poor protagonist from protagging his or her way into that particular plot thicket.
The plot thickens so to speak? Hah!