What To Do When You’re Stuck

Sometimes you’ll get to a point in your novel when you don’t know what comes next. We’ve all been in this situation, and it can be frustrating. This is the point when many aspiring authors will be tempted to quit, or just put it down for a while until inspiration strikes. Don’t allow yourself to stop. Inspiration is much more likely to strike you while you are writing. It’s best to work through the block. The easiest way to do that is to write with the end in mind. Figure out how you want your story to end, and work towards that.

The twelve-scene diagram is a tool that is very helpful in determining what needs to happen next in your story. The best part about it is that you can do it yourself. Here’s how it works. Get out a piece of paper and number it from one to twelve. Number one will be your opening scene. Number twelve will be your closing scene. All of the numbers in between are what will get you from point 1 to point 12. As you write, fill in the scenes that you’ve already written. This will help you figure out what comes next. For most novels, you’ll want to use something close to the following format:

1. Hero at home living every day life

2. Hero’s belief system changes due to some outside influence

3. Hero consults friends/family/mentor

4. Hero wrestles with choices

5. Hero attempts to make a fresh start or implement a new way new way of thinking

6. Hero is tested

7. Hero is tested again

8. Hero suffers a major setback

9. Hero recovers and improves

10. Hero is on the brink of accomplishment

11. Hero confronts the antagonist

12. Hero succeeds

If you don’t know quite know all of the specifics about how your story is going to end, that’s fine. But if you have absolutely no idea what is going to happen, maybe it’s time to start thinking about that. You don’t have to stick with that ending, but at least it will get you writing in a certain direction. Sometimes characters surprise you and maybe things will turn out differently than you anticipated. That’s fine. Nothing is set in stone until your novel is published and on the shelf at Barnes and Noble.

The point of this exercise is to get you writing towards something. This will help to advance your plot at a more exciting pace. It will also create a sense of purpose and excitement in your writing. Another reason to use this method? It allows you to throw in some foreshadowing, something you wouldn’t be able to do if you didn’t know what was going to happen. Your readers will love that.

Happy Writing!