Sometimes writing can be a lot like reading a “choose your own adventure” book. Do you guys remember those? Do they even still exist?
When your character is faced with a decision, the choice that she makes will drive the direction of the book. But what happens when that choice leads you down a path that you didn’t really want to go or worse, much, much, worse, a brick wall.
Well, I’ll admit when I used to read those “choose your own adventure” books, I’d cheat. If I led the MC down a path that leads them to death—I would back up to the point of failure and go a different route.
I’m having a similar problem with the MC in my YA. Let’s face it, teenagers don’t always make the best decisions, and Poe is no exception. Of course, she needs to make poor choices along her road to growth or well, what’s the point of writing about it. But I am having to play around with the outcome.
Another area is a supporting character, Quinn. He has a bad boy streak, but deciding how much of a bad boy—that’s difficult. Is he playing her, or does he really care? His motives will drive the story and can determine how the whole book plays out.
So, I take a note from the “choose your own adventure” books. I take one path, write it, and then back up and choose another direction and write it that way. Now, I’m not writing full scenes, but I am plotting and planning. Exploring the cause and effect in an outline/free writing type fashion.
This little problem is new for me. With Iron Thirst, I knew how it would end, so it was much easier for me to get there. But with this novel, I have no idea how it will end. This is the most linear that I have ever written. But I’m working my way through it.
So, what are some tips you use when you hit a dead end? Do you know the ending of your book early in the process, or is it normally a surprise to you?