Friday, May 4, 2012

Temporarily Lost

I know I’m in Act II because my loosely drawn plot says so. But why am I so darn lost here?  Like any good traveler who loses her way, I pull over and consult the map. I can see the spot I’m at, I just can’t see any farther.

Why am I lost? Why am I temporarily direction-challenged? Do I make a right or a left at the next scene? Do I continue straight ahead or back up? The only thing I know for certain is that I can’t stay here. In Act II. Forever.

There’s only one thing to do in a situation like this: I asked for directions. I called on my blog-sisters and each of them answered my plaintive wail for help with brilliant insight. 

Here’s what I learned when you’re lost in the middle of your work-in-progress, when the scenes you’re stuck in give you fits:

1. Keep the Big Picture in mind. Step back a pace and look at the overarching story. Do the troublesome scenes fit the big picture? You’re essentially putting together a puzzle made of scenes and each scene has its place. If the scene doesn’t complete the picture, it doesn’t belong there.

2. Do the scenes drive the story forward, or put it in a tailspin? There’s a reason you’re stuck and perhaps the scene isn’t working because intrinsically you know it’s off-track. You’re off the highway and bumping down a rabbit trail.

3. Do the scenes compliment the tone and “feel” of the rest of the story? Do they fit, or do they stand out radically from the others?

4. Focus on one message or theme. What is the point of your story? How does it effect the hero and those around him? Do the scenes help or hinder that theme?

I have a clearer picture of where I’m going now. It was actually a blessing to be temporarily lost. I needed to pause and get my bearings and now I can set off again with confidence. The best thing about getting lost, however, was knowing I could count on my blog-sisters to keep me pointed True North. Thanks ladies.


  1. Yay, Susan! I'm glad you blogsisters (love the name ; ) helped you out...and that you shared with us.

  2. Whew. I just came through that slough. Why do I always forget it's a natural part of the process in the middle of a novel? I sent out my SOS's too, and pleas for prayers, and of course direction came as I simply waited for it.

    Maybe next time I won't panic, and trust the process more. Glad you're making it through too. Forward!

  3. Thanks for sharing, Susan! You guys have got some wonderful insight. I like the big picture idea. Must remember these as I edit...

  4. Thanks for sharing the lessons you learnt and glad you actually found it an enriching experience to be temporarily lost.