Getting Unstuck. Again.

river rocks

This past week, I’ve been stuck. I mean really stuck. I knew the beginning of the plot, I knew the middle and I knew the end, but I felt that I was missing something…something that could enhance the story and drastically boost my word count. Then, it hit me. The setting. I have my characters in the perfect geographical location for something extraordinary to happen, but I was so focused on getting from point A to point B to point C that I was just glazing over the setting and almost missed out on a gold nugget buried beneath the surface of my setting.

So, if the plot isn’t moving, try adjusting your focus. By just slightly adjusting my focus from the plot to the setting, I was able to develop my two main characters in such a way that pulled them forward in their relationship while adding at least another 3-4 chapters to my story.

Ways to adjust your focus and gain inspiration from your setting:

1. Find out what makes your setting unique. Are there mountains? Caves? Waterfalls? What/who lives on/in those mountains/caves/waterfalls? Are there any edible/poisonous plants?

2. Don’t be afraid to let your character go on an adventure that you weren’t plotting. If you happen to discover something about the terrain that you didn’t know while plotting, think if it enhances or detracts from your story. If it enhances, start outlining a new adventure for your character. The trick is to weave it into your story and not let it overtake your story.

For example: Yesterday, I was adding in the new adventure brought on by the setting, but then I realized that it could quickly minus off at least 4k words that I had already written for the chapters following, so I had to take a step back and figure out how to weave it into my story without disrupting the plot too much. With a few adjustments here and there, I was able to save those 4k words and still add my new twist! (Close call. While I’m not afraid of chopping out huge chunks of words, I’d hate to lose them and set myself back if it can be avoided.)

3. Research natural disasters that occur in your setting and during your time period. Now that you have deeper understanding of the terrain, find out if there was ever a hurricane, tornado, earthquake, blizzard or flood. If you don’t want to go the natural disaster route, you can always just throw in a bad storm that slightly changes the course for your heroine/hero to make them go in the direction you want.

4. Capturing your heroine/hero’s reaction to the terrain/setting. Once you decide how to implement your setting, how does your character respond? Do they excel with the added challenge? Do they have to push aside their fears to conquer this scene and continue towards their goal? Do they develop a new fear, which will enhance the climax?

I hope this gives you some inspiration for getting unstuck! Happy writing!

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About Grace Hitchcock

Grace Hitchcock's first novella, The Widow of St. Charles Avenue, released in Barbour Publishing’s The Second Chance Brides Collection August 2017. Her second novella will release in Barbour Publishing’s The Southern Belle Brides Collection in 2018. She has a Masters in Creative Writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in History. Grace is a Louisiana Southerner living in Colorado with her husband, Dakota, and newborn son.

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