4 Ways to Write Yourself out of a Corner


As I said yesterday, watch this space for an upcoming announcement about Aunty Ida. It should be fun.

Getting to the business of blogging, let’s talk about backing yourself into corners while writing. You have that moment where you’ve closed all the doors and windows, and there’s nothing but two slabs of wall meeting behind you. It all looks impossible and bleak, and you’d like to see your character manage to get out of that one.

And then you realize you’re the one who’ll have to hatch the escape plan. Oops.

So now what? I have four suggestions:

1. Look at your characters and who they are, what they want, and what they have to do to get it. You have a protagonist trapped in a cave with a dragon breathing fire at her. Who is your protagonist? How would she react? What does she want (not to be barbecued, the dragon’s mystical, nonflammable oven gloves)? What does the dragon want? Death to the intruder? Her fabulous, glittery shoes?

2. Examine your environment. Even a corner isn’t always a corner. Back to our gorgeously-shoed protagonist and our fiery dragon. What is behind her in the cave? Is it rock? What kind of rock? What happens when the dragon’s fire hits the rock? Maybe it results in a sparkly mineral the dragon’s never noticed before and the protagonist can use to help the dragon make its own fabulous, glittery shoes.

3. Invent something or someone. Does this one feel like cheating? Well, it isn’t, because you can always, always fix it later when you edit, placing earlier references if you need them. Unlike the warning message on the dragon’s cave, your story isn’t written in stone, unless you’re using the most unforgiving medium ever.

4. Set a timer. This method is one of my favorite ways to get going when I can’t seem to move forward. I set a timer for 10 minutes, 20 minutes, or 30, and just write without giving myself time to think.

Don’t dread the corners. That’s where the story gets good and the challenge sets in.

Need something to read? Check out  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only) .

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