There comes that moment when you’re writing a story and it just gets stuck.
Maybe it’s in a rut and not a lot is happening, or maybe the characters have backed themselves into a corner, or maybe it’s you the author who is blocked and unsure where to go next.
I’ve been in that place for the last couple of weeks with my project, probably owing in no small part to the fact that summer is over and I’m back to work. New employer, new commute, new routine, new stress. Hard to dedicate the grey matter that I’d like to the book, and it’s suffered for it. I’ve been writing by rote, pushing the story forward like it’s a stalled Ford Fiesta miles from the nearest gas station. (To say nothing of my scanty posts around here.)
Luckily, though, characters have a life of their own, and every once in a while, if you keep at it, the muse will flutter down and blow some glitter up your butt. My main character — perhaps as frustrated as me at the aimless wandering going on at this point in the draft — took the wheel and steered us right off the road during my morning session. Jumped ahead to a conflict I wasn’t planning until very late in the book indeed, if at all. Exposed the raw nerve floating right beneath the skin and vented some spleen all over the gooey sludge of this story.
It’s a turn I wasn’t expecting — wasn’t even thinking about when I sat down to write — but it fits perfectly with the character and the story. Of course it does. I told myself when I sat down to write not to force anything but just to let a conversation happen, and before I knew it, I was over quota for the day and my protagonist and antagonist have increased the boiler pressure well past the safe range.
Which serves as a good reminder of something I forget often: sometimes you just have to get the fargo out of the story’s way.