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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Painting Yourself Into A Corner

Unless your name is Monty Python your story will eventually lead to an inevitable conclusion. You will paint yourself into a corner.

If you a third of the way through your book, this is a major plot SNAFU and you need to rewrite.

Five chapters from the end, this is the perfect place to be.

You spend the entire book plucking the character's choices one by one. When a book opens, the possibilities are infinite. Choices spread out like a field of bluebonnets. Anything could happen.

One by one, your character makes choices. Every choice brings a consequence. Every choice has a reaction.

When you write you call it opening and arc, the natural reaction is the motivating plot force, and the fulfillment is closing the plot arc. Sometimes the arc closes quickly, there are times the arc stretches for two books (or ten), but it will close or you have failed as an author.

Eventually the closing plot arcs crash together. The characters run out of choices. There is only one thing left for them to do. All other options have been explored.

You have painted yourself into a corner.

Sitting down last night just after I broke 75k (pause and party with me a moment!) I realized there was nothing left to my plot. My main character only has one choice left. Her actions led her to this point, but now she's caught in a tidal wave of consequence.

The end if nigh.

I have seven scenes between me and THE END.

And I'm writing fast.

Image found here. Used under Fair Use laws.


  1. *applause*

    Congrats! Very exciting time in a draft.

  2. Oh, I would KILL to be there right now... actually, I'm going to have to kill a character just to get over the 40K hump. ;)

    Good luck on wrapping everything up!

  3. I forgot to say the Python reference was priceless and perfect! Thanks for a laugh this morning, Liana.

  4. Stephanie - Thank you. :o)

    Tere - Body count is up to four so far, if you ignore the off-screen triple homicide that kicked the book off. Killing characters always moves the plot along. Yesterday I killed the main suspect for all the other murders. My investigators are very angry.

  5. The last chapters are so much fun to write. Congratulations!