These are my notes from the Romance Writers of Australia 2022 conference. Please be aware that this is not a transcript.
Getting Unstuck: How to Untangle your Narrative Knots – Sasha Wasley
Why do we get stuck?
Identify plot problems
Understand characters arcs
What are push points?
– I’m stuck and I don’t know why
– I hate this
– I don’t know where this is going
– The story keeps changing directions
– I’m bored
– Story is what happens
– Plot is how it gets there
Plot is causative; it causes other things to happen. It’s the skeleton of the narrative. Discussion on Freytag’s pyramid, and a couple of plotting exercises.
When we remove issues of author self-confidence, the biggest reason we get stuck is the part between plot and character.
Plot/events have to have emotional significance.
– drives the plot
– a character begins a story believing a lie about themselves (or the world)
– the plot exposes the lie
Exercise with current wip on this. Here’s my example (from Driven by Ambition)
Know the Lie
Freddy – believes he can’t have a workplace relationship due to a past bad experience, and thinks he isn’t worth the risk
Jaxxon – good at strategy so thinks he can plan for all outcomes and use logic for all situations
How to Uncover the Lie
Freddy – learns his inate value; someone can want him for himself, not his external achievements. Workplace isn’t relevant to what happened to him before
Jaxxon – omg, emotions aren’t logical? What!
Back to Push Points
– Use plot and character arcs and questions to autopsy the story to date. It helps see what has gone wrong so far.
– What is the hook?
– Write through the doubt. Stubborness for the win!
– talk it through with another writer
– go back to the initial premise
– came back to each character’s GMC
– try plotting backwards
– take a break. sometimes time away from a wip is gives you a better view of it
– write out of order
– skip a bit
Learn the rules of writing so you can break them.