I have a certain routine when I begin a book. I hear a sentence in my head, wonder why that sentence was said, who said it and what the story is behind it. The story begins to reveal itself and I listen.
I don't do a lot of plotting beforehand, but I do a lot of thinking and will occasionally make notes. For the most part, I just start writing.
Lately I've had some difficulty in coming up with additional words for a work in progress. I finished the book and realized I'd rushed the ending and was short on my word count. I'd come up with all sorts of scenarios, but just couldn't make them work. I was stumped. So I went to my writing buddies...you know, those people who will understand your terminology, commiserate with you and be honest with you. I'm fortunate to have about eight people I can go to. So I thought, why not ask them all?
I put together an email with my dilemma. I knew what I wanted to have happen, but couldn't decide in one particular instance a decision my heroine must make. So I wrote it all out and the four or five options, fully intending to send it. But amazingly enough, after I wrote it out and read it a half dozen times, I knew what I should do. Seeing it written out like that opened my eyes.
After that decision was made, I felt better but realized I was still stuck on a few other things. So, during an IM session with a friend in Texas, I told her what my problem was and during that twenty minute conversation, I realized why I was having the problem. I had killed my villain off too soon and there was no longer any external conflict. My hero and heroine were bored, and so was I.
So, even though I'd written about five thousand words and was almost to my word count goal, I cut them out and started over. And you know what? It didn't hurt like I thought it would because I know I'm headed in the right direction. It felt good and fresh. What a relief!
So, how about you, do you find different ways to think and plot when you're stuck? Have you ever realized you were going in the wrong direction and had to do major surgery to your manuscript?