Don't know where my plot is going!

by Thea

Question: Hi, my name is Thea and I have a problem with a fantasy novel I'm writing. Nothing serious, just something I write for fun, and that I've been writing on for quite some time.

I found myself writing the other day, on a part of my novel that I've been "perfectionized" for months, and I finally finished, but what happened was that I didn't know where to go now. Suddenly I lost track of my protagonist's goal, of the goal of my story, I couldn't find a decent ending or decide the direction of my story. I freaked!

My question is, what can I do to get "back on track" again, and do you have any tips on how to figure out a good direction for my plot and a good ending?

Thanks, I love your page!

Answer: Thanks for the kind words.

If you've lost track of your protagonist's goal, my advice is to find it again. Step back and look at the section you've just written. At the same time review your original idea for the story.

It may be that you got a little off track and need to revise what you've written to bring it back in line with the story you originally wanted to tell. I'm assuming you started by creating an outline, however brief. If not, you may need to create one from your original idea. That outline should include the story goal, the protagonist's inner conflict, how they will be resolved at the climax, and how the protagonist's life will be different in the end. It also helps to include the major stepping-stones of the plot. Make sure they are linked by cause and effect and that each one is an event - an irrevocable change that leads to the next. A good outline should tell you where you went astray.

On the other hand, the section you have just written may be part of a different story that interests you more than your original idea. It happens sometimes that we don't discover the real story until we are in the middle of writing it.

If that's true, then I would suggest you create a new outline for the story you're writing now. Maybe the goal has changed, and therefore the resolution and inner conflict must change to match. Maybe you will need a different series of events to bring your protagonist to his/her crucial decision at the climax.

As you can tell from this site, I am a plotter rather than a pantser by nature. I like to work with an outline because that gives a spine to the novel. I can flesh out that spine any way I like, but the framework keeps me on track.

I hope this helps.

Comments for Don't know where my plot is going!

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Losing yourself isn't always bad
by: Nelo

Before you go and just start plotting or anything like that, remember that you're doing this for yourself and you should be having fun with it. Also, not to bash those who focus on their character's goals heavily, I prefer the milling about style, I think focusing too much on your character's goals ruins the fun of a story. If you look at the Harry Potter books, or James Patterson's Maximum Ride series, both take a lot of time to really get to anything in the plot, focusing more on the moment, Patterson enjoys quite a few instances of the kids just being kids.

Too many writers focus on the new style of rushing through a story, not enough savor it like the old writers did, like Tolkien or many other legends.

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