Lately I’ve been scribbling away, writing the end of my new novel and growing more and more frustrated. When I wrote the first draft it had an end. Simple, happily-ever-after. When I began the second draft my research demanded that I change things here and there. I also condensed a couple of minor characters into a secondary character. By the time I reached the end of my story these changes had snowballed together so that I ended up near the end with a whole issue between my hero and this new character that had to be resolved. That isn’t unusual when writing and I’ve dealt with this problem before. However this time it felt like the problem was like the hub of a wheel and each idea l created to handle it, became another spoke, veering the story off in a different direction.
When I took the problem to my critique group I was given even more suggestions for writing the scene. And once again each scenario became another spoke, sending the story off in yet another direction.
On top of that, part way into the story my hero ended up owning a mule. This mule named Percy, wasn’t in the original draft, and as he wasn’t all that important to the plot line, he wasn’t involved in the ending. But my critique group loved him so much they threatened to launch a Save Percy campaign on Facebook if I didn’t find a way to bring him back into the story.
So I sat down, picked a scenario, and wrote it out. I wrote three different endings yet none of them felt right. This novel that I had wanted to finish by the end of May had now crept into September.
I had lost focus. I need to step back and with pen and paper figure out how each of these scenarios moved the plot forward?
Each scene has its own story arc with a beginning, a middle and end. Each action in the scene causes a reaction, which is why choice A created C and D and choice B caused E and F.
I needed to look at those actions and pick the one that created the strongest reaction.
I went back to my hero and heroine and thought about who had the most at stake in resolving this issue with the secondary character. In this light I could easily see my hero had the most to lose. That told me this part of the story needed to be written in his point-of-view.
Once I established that, I looked at the character arcs again, especially my hero’s, reevaluating what his main goal had been throughout the story. How would this scene allow him to reach or not reach that goal?
How much should my heroine help him? Would helping or not helping him aid her in achieving her goals?
Then I had to look at my hero’s biggest fear to see which scene choice pushed him the most emotionally.
Once I wrote out the answers to these questions then it gradually became clear that to get the strongest reaction and create the most emotion in the characters I would have to pick B.
I even managed to wiggle Percy back into the end for a cameo.