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Ademand
01-16-2012, 07:08 AM
Hi there,
I am new here and so I do not know my way around entirely, I am sorry if this is in the wrong place.
I was wondering what you do when you get part way through a book and don't know what to write next?
To elaborate I recently started to write a book, when I began I had an idea of what the start of the plot would be. I have since written a couple of chapters and run out of the bit of the plot I had planned.
So I thought I would ask, what do you do when you have no clue about what the rest of the plot will be?
thanks

Anaquana
01-16-2012, 07:14 AM
Welcome, Ademand!

I only ever have a very vague idea of what my plot is going to be. I'm what my friend Lisa calls a fog-walker and other people call a pantser. The best advice I have is for you to just keep on writing. Think about what has already happened and extrapolate from there what should happen next based on your characters and their different personalities/backgrounds/etc.

JMEM
01-16-2012, 09:31 AM
This is usually when I start outlining. I brainstorm and write down little notes on where I might want the story to go. Create multiple situations you might want to see your characters in, work with them as much as you can, and see where they want to go.

I find this helps me remember where I wanted to go with a story in the first place. For my current WIP, I've made some recent, major changes, and to help me remember all the little details I'll have to alter, I wrote two pages worth of notes. My method is a little disorganized, granted, but it works for me.

Do whatever feels right to you. If you like writing without outlines, go for it. Write what you want to, and see if a plot emerges. A first draft doesn't have to be perfect. :)

Sentosa
01-16-2012, 02:45 PM
What drives your story: characters or plot?

For me, I find my stories flow better and are more interesting if I sort of let my characters influence the plots and subplots.

Something like that might help you.

Bufty
01-16-2012, 03:09 PM
Welcome Adaman.

What happens next is wholly dependent upon what has gone before, so you can't dream yourself out of a hole without going back and seeing where the story has led you -if anywhere.

If it hasn't led you anywhere, then maybe your characters have been wandering about twiddling their fingers, so it may be a case of going back to the beginning, I'm afraid.

No easy solution here.

As a New Member why not introduce yourself in the New Members Forum and put some details in your profile.


Hi there,
I am new here and so I do not know my way around entirely, I am sorry if this is in the wrong place.
I was wondering what you do when you get part way through a book and don't know what to write next?
To elaborate I recently started to write a book, when I began I had an idea of what the start of the plot would be. I have since written a couple of chapters and run out of the bit of the plot I had planned.
So I thought I would ask, what do you do when you have no clue about what the rest of the plot will be?
thanks

backslashbaby
01-16-2012, 03:26 PM
Brainstorm. That's all I've got. I have to get myself in a kind of daydreamy mood, if that helps any. So if you are having problems, try to fix your surroundings so that you can focus/relax mentally. Later, distractions won't matter as much.

I also jot down a lot of weird notes. They sound like they'd be too silly to jot down, but it really helps the brainstorming for some reason. That said, everyone is different :)

Oh! And if I pick up something new to read and I like the work, I'll start to brainstorm on my own stuff. It must fire the same synapses or something :D

bearilou
01-16-2012, 04:26 PM
I'm an outliner and sometimes I run into this problem. I've had great success by sitting down right before I start writing and taking about 5 minutes to jot down a few notes on a notepad of what I want to happen in the scene, of where I want to head to next in the writing. I find that's enough to jump start me forward.

good luck

BethS
01-16-2012, 06:55 PM
So I thought I would ask, what do you do when you have no clue about what the rest of the plot will be?
thanks

You look back at what you just wrote and find the seeds of conflict that will sprout the rest of story.

IOW...what is your main character's main goal? What are you going to do to prevent him or her from reaching it until the end of the book? Or maybe he won't reach it at all and what will he end up with instead? What is the agenda of the antagonist? How does it clash with that of the protagonist (main character)? What personal problems does the MC will make it difficult if not impossible to achieve his goal?

The answers to those questions will tell you where to go next.

brianjanuary
01-16-2012, 06:58 PM
This is one of the best reasons for pre-planning your novel. If you lay out your basic plot points, climax, reversals, etc. beforehand, you can ascertain whether your concept has enough staying power to make it into a full-length novel.

Bufty
01-16-2012, 07:27 PM
Not necessarily.

It's the words that end up on the page that matter.

Pre-planning to that extent would bore me out of my skull in the process.

But, if it works for you, or anyone else, fine.

It's not a universal magic route to success.

This is one of the best reasons for pre-planning your novel. If you lay out your basic plot points, climax, reversals, etc. beforehand, you can ascertain whether your concept has enough staying power to make it into a full-length novel.

jswwrites
01-16-2012, 07:43 PM
For a first draft, just keep writing (in NaNo the general advice is "add zombies" but unless you've got that paranormal thing going on, take it with a grain of salt!). Since it's a first draft and will need a lot of revision anyway, just keep going. Kill someone off. Have someone have an affair and/or get caught in the act. Discover a mysterious letter. Car accident. Surprise party. Run into a long lost lover/enemy/partner in crime. Come home to a break-in. Shoot an intruder. Win the lottery/vacation/new car. Food fight. Lost in the jungle. In short, add some conflict somewhere and see what happens. Your characters might surprise you!

Torgo
01-16-2012, 07:47 PM
Have a man come through the door with a gun, was Raymond Chandler's advice.

inspiredbymusic
01-16-2012, 09:32 PM
When I get to a point like that, I write some notes. For me, I try to know what the "main conflict" is, but aside from that I don't plan a whole lot. If and when I get stuck, I brainstorm and write some notes. I hope you find what works for you.
Other advice: put your MC in a bad situation, then make it worse. Good luck!

AmethystEva
01-16-2012, 09:38 PM
Other advice: put your MC in a bad situation, then make it worse. Good luck!


That is a surefire way of getting things moving along. That's what I do with my characters, all the time. They hardly ever get a break. It's storm and calmness for them over and over again, in almost every chapter. Now, one of my main MC's is working towards putting one of my main villains in a deep, dark hole. Let's see if the villain can get out before it's too late, yeah? :) I only write things down when I know it's not going to mess up what I've written so far. This time, though, I didn't write down what was going to happen next before actually getting back to the MS, I just went right on along with it. One of my villains is courting my heroine, and one of my supporting main characters if you will, not exactly the heroine, but one of the MC's, is courting one of my villains, the main villain if you will, so it's the ultimate role-reversal kinda thing I'm trying to create here. Let's see how it'll turn out for both of us. In an effort to help you further, I will keep you posted, see if we can get you moving.

quicklime
01-16-2012, 10:22 PM
try driving to and from work with the car radio off for a week.

that silence has a way of giving your head time to do its thing.

fireluxlou
01-16-2012, 10:28 PM
Well first. Write down in a list what you have so far, then see if there's inconsistencies and questions to be answered within the plot?

I am a pantser I can only do a bit of an outline. I can't fully outline a book I just have to go with it.

CChampeau
01-17-2012, 01:49 AM
Trey Parker (co-creator of South Park) once said something along the lines of, "Just when things begin to go smoothly, throw in a 'but' or an 'except that...'"

In other words, when things are running smooth for your characters, throw a wrench in the gears. ;)

WriteMinded
01-18-2012, 01:34 AM
If you find the magic answer, please let me know. I got stuck in the middle of my WIP. I knew the ending but didn't know how to get there gracefully. The answer was to kill off one of my main characters. Doing so, made friends of two enemies, and enemies of two friends. It also provided the perfect opportunity for my MC to face his denial, and it pushed him toward change.

Maybe all you need is to add another problem or conflict or to take something away from your MC that he/she values.

Jamesaritchie
01-18-2012, 08:16 PM
Hi there,
I am new here and so I do not know my way around entirely, I am sorry if this is in the wrong place.
I was wondering what you do when you get part way through a book and don't know what to write next?
To elaborate I recently started to write a book, when I began I had an idea of what the start of the plot would be. I have since written a couple of chapters and run out of the bit of the plot I had planned.
So I thought I would ask, what do you do when you have no clue about what the rest of the plot will be?
thanks

I never, ever know what the rest of the plot will be. But I write in terms of story, and never think about plot.

What comes next doesn't matter. What I write on the current page does, and all it has to do is be a logical following of what happened on the previous page.

Atarrin
01-18-2012, 10:06 PM
I would:

1) Take a break for a while and passively think about the story while doing something else. (Cooking dinner, commuting to work, watching television)

if inspiration doesn't strike from that:

2) Actively just sit down and think about the possible roads your story could take next;

If inspiration still eludes me, then...

3) Sit down and craft a formal outline.

Astronomer
01-19-2012, 02:56 AM
Welcome, Ademand.

This is a great place to get excellent advice.

All I can add to the wonderful advice here is to advise you to try writing placeholder chapters instead of the actual novel. A placeholder chapter, instead of consisting of narrative and dialog, might read like this:
Chapter 3: Doctor tells MC she has nine days to live. MC decides to make the most of it and books a skydiving lesson. Skydiving instructor is hawt and does cancer research in his spare time. Establish foreshadowing to first kiss.
Write multiple placeholders for the next chapter (the one you're stuck on), each taking the story in a different direction. Writing in such an abbreviated manner lets you quickly explore multiple branches in your plot/story simultaneously, and it gets the back-burners of your brain busy selecting the best path to take. (The advice about silence above is, well, golden.) Discard the branches you decide not to keep, and expand the placeholders you decide to keep into first-draft chapters. My example placeholder above could probably be expanded into a 3000-word chapter, depending on your writing style.

Of course, YMMV, and all that.

Something else that's always good to do is to read.

Welcome to AW.

Bufty
01-19-2012, 03:07 AM
Hi, Adamand,

Hope you're finding the replies helpful.

Rufus Coppertop
01-19-2012, 03:37 AM
Ask yourself how you want it to end and consider how your characters will arrive their and what obstacles the villain(s) might put in their way.

Linda Adams
01-19-2012, 05:15 AM
I just attended a writing workshop where we had to create 100 words with setting, character, and hook in about 15 minutes. We couldn't use an existing idea; it had to be new. As I picked up my pen, I had moment of panic. I didn't know what the heck I was going to do! Then I thought that I wanted to write an action story so it should start to reflect that. Then I wrote a sentence, and I wrote another sentence and another until I hit the hook. So it is possible to continue writing and be surprised with what comes out!

If you're just stuck at that point in the story but have ideas for later scenes, skip ahead and write those scenes. I had a point in my story where I painted myself into the corner and couldn't figure out how to get out of it, so I typed, "Some stuff happens" and hopped to the next scene.

Not necessarily.

It's the words that end up on the page that matter.

Pre-planning to that extent would bore me out of my skull in the process.

But, if it works for you, or anyone else, fine.

It's not a universal magic route to success.

Seconding this. Planning would put a knife in my story and leave it feet in the air. It works for some people, but not for everyone.

Ademand
01-19-2012, 11:10 AM
Hey guys,
Thank you very much for your help.
Now I know what direction the plot will go in.
So, now I off to do what Bufty suggested and introduce myself in the new members forum.