Friday, February 4, 2011

What else could possibly go wrong?

I know, I know. It's the question we're never supposed to ask. Just whispering the words is the equivalent of asking the universe to smite us please, and vigorously.

I'm not, mind you, asking the question on my behalf. 

Those of you who have spent any time reading the entries on my writing process at all know that I write by my headlights. I don't outline, and for goodness' sake, I even have a "plot is something that happens to other people" label for the entries here. This is not an announcement that anything in my writing process has changed.

But when I feel like I'm starting to run up against the leading edge of those headlights and the only thing stretching out before me is outer darkness and blank pages, I've been looking at what's happened in the draft so far, and then wondering: what else could possibly go wrong? Answering that question usually gets me through the next few scenes, so long as I remember not to look down. So long as I don't let myself worry about how I'm going to tie this all up at the end. (It's only a draft. It's only a draft. It's only a draft.)

It is sort of terrifying to write like this, with things getting worse and worse and worse, but it's also sort of exhilarating. Things are happening! I am learning things about my characters! And things are moving. Which is good, because I am stumbling towards the Dreaded Middle, and I am really hoping the momentum I have here will pull (or push or drag) me far enough through that section that I'll be able to feel my way towards an ending.

Apparently what you do when you can no longer see your headlights, is you blow up the road in front of you, and write by the light of the explosions.

That's fine: fire pretty.


  1. Fire pretty? You've gotten into the Buffy beer, haven't you? *grin*

    What else could possibly go wrong? I like that. I like the idea of using that. I don't think I've consciously turned to that question, but it could be useful.

    As always, I'm glad to have glimpses of your process. It helps me with mine. :-) ~Ali

  2. I pretty much feel like it is always an appropriate time for a Buffy reference.

    I was inspired to try this by a few recent reads where I noticed that the stakes kept getting pushed higher and higher, and the ability to do that seemed like it might be a useful tool to have in the kit.

    I'm not trying to write a thriller, so sometimes the explosion is in the character's personal life, instead of an actual explosion, but it's working so far.

  3. Buffy references are always welcome -- and the Princess Bride. And all of the John Hughes movies. *grin*

    I do love a good personal explosion (character-wise, not so much in my personal life). I think seeing how a character handles it, how it impacts the other characters etc -- it's valuable. And when in doubt, rocks fall -- everyone dies. ;-)