So you can read my books

Friday, September 27, 2013


Can you believe it?
It's one of the biggest commercial successes of all time and garnered extremely positive reviews, but "Marvel's The Avengers" has at least one rather notable critic:
 its own writer-director.
Whedon's biggest criticism of his creation?
The structure, which he refers to as "haphazard" in a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly.
I am a hybrid.  Not a plotter or pantser -- but a blend of the two.
I have a three act structure in my head.  I know the beats I want to have in my tale.  I have an end that I am shooting for: my novel's horizon.
But some of the moments are vague and open to a twist that I think will make a better story.
I am currently writing HER BONES ARE IN THE BADLANDS.
I knew the mood I wanted to convey, and a great way to ratchet it up came to me. 
So I wrote it, and then went ...
"Merde, how do I get them out of this? 
Oh, that would be a great way. 
Ah, did they even have fire extinguishers in 1927? 
All right, I fixed it but now the situation is even worse! 
What do I do now?"
Not to worry.  The story is coming along just fine after a little Josh Whedon-ing!
Have you ever written yourself in a corner?
1.) Getting yourself out of the writing corner may mean a complete shift in the journey your story is on.
You may need to backtrack, back up and examine how you got in the corner in the first place.
2.) Are you rigid about your initial idea?
Does this idea have enough potential to be able to present you with open doors to creative development?
If not you may need to do a serious re-structuring or rewrite
to get the ideas flowing and the pathway open and clear to proceed.
3.) Go past if you can to another spot in your novel,
Writing the next episode may cause to think of a novel way to foreshadow what you're now writing in the corner you only think you stuck yourself in.
4.) Don't be afraid to ask.
Have an insoluble trap?  Ask trusted, clever friends what they would expect people in a movie to do if they ran into your obstacle. 
Their answers may surprise you and provide the inspiration to carve a window into the corner you've written yourself into.
5.) Ask yourself questions.
Like what you say.  "What might your hero do, given the kind of character he is?”
"What are all the items you might find in the setting of your impossible situation?  Have you overlooked the ways any of those items might be used in a novel way to escape?"
Have you written yourself into any corners?
What did you do to write yourself out of them?


  1. Because of the idea of needing to restructure my novel, I wrote one simply using scenes. I still got myself in a mess. I've put it away and will have to revisit it one day. I love the story line but story ideas need not be rigid.

    I think the latest Superman movie was completely unstructured--to me, anyway.

    Hope all goes well, Roland.


  2. Denise:
    You should read Roger Zelazny's ROADMARKS or his DOORWAYS IN THE SAND -- if the story hadn't been so compelling, I might have given up on both of them!

    As with MAN OF STEEL, the plot holes bothered me but I just went with it. The twisting of character to make the plot as wanted is what annoyed me with THE DARK KNIGHT RISES.

    You're right: sometimes if we are flexible with story ideas, our novels become stronger. :-)

  3. I always create a detailed outline, so I don't get stuck while writing. But that outline can be a challenge as I'm putting it together. Yes, I have gone to a critique partner with something that wasn't working. His suggestion led me in an awesome new direction.

  4. I have always heard that Douglas Adams wrote himself into a corner because he made it up as he went. That is why he created the Improbability Drive in Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, to get his characters out of space and to safety.

  5. Hi Roland!

    Yes I certainly have gotten myself in a bind with my story. I write off the seat of my, so to say... I have no plan, the story leads me from the background my life points to. That is when I so research. If you are reading my book now I bet you have spotted where I got myself in trouble, and not more than once. Have a great week-end!

  6. I re-arrange things. But I'm a planner, this doesn't happen to me often, and if it does, I'm flexible. I create scenes to get myself out of a corner in my writing.

    Whedon is probably a perfectionist.

  7. As a mostly-pantser, I find rigidity to be impossible. I have to go where it feels right. It doesn't usually lead me into a corner, though. I have enough of an idea of what needs to happen to keep pushing forward. If I'm stuck, well, there's always editing, right?

  8. Alex:
    I have a rough sketch of an outline when I start, but many times the story evolves into different directions. I envy you your outlining zeal!

    The brothers who did THE MATRIX did the same thing with plotting from instinct -- and got into trouble!!

    Sometimes I research even more as I write, and that gives be more ideas which enriches my novel. Wow! October is going to some busy month for us, right?

    I think you're right: Whedon is probably a perfectionist, but it works for him. To be flexible is to add life and unpredictability to our novels.

    J E:
    I'm a bit like Dean Koontz and edit as I go along. Dean Koontz also writes as you do -- which is one of the reasons I think his endings sometimes fail to deliver upon the whiz-bang premise. I have to beware of that! :-)