Thursday, March 19, 2015

A Writer's Bridge


(That's one of my actual white-oak baskets on the cover. It will be on the back of the paper version, too. Thank you, Naj Qamber Designs.)

When you're stumped by what happens next in your story, and you know what happens after that, some writers recommend typing the word Bridge.

That is one idea. The intention is to come back and fill in the "bridge" scene when you are ready.

However, this has previously not worked for me. I am usually a fast shot writer, which serves me best to write straight on through, and then edit. I'm a cross between a "Plotter" and a "Plunger". I usually Plot, but then I Plunge. :) Sometimes I'll find that a scene is needed and write it in in the edit.

I am trying that bridge idea for the first time today. What I usually do, when faced with a stumper of a next plot-point scene, is completely leave the work and take a drive. My car is my think-box on an open road. Usually the answer comes before I'm home and I quickly sketch it out.

I've heard of other things writers do when stumped, like putting on a cap or a black cloth, or facing a blank wall. I say, go for any trick that works for you, individually.

When I have to leave a story, just for lunch or perhaps for a time break, I try to leave of snippets about the next scene. This gives me a running jump on the next writing session. Also, when I am writing, I may leave Notes at the top of the manuscript. These might refer to names, ages, whatever. Those would be fast reference in addition to my trusty synopsis or plot. I loved PageFour Outliner (PC only) but am learning other software now.

Recently, because of Life's Novel Interruptus, I've done lots of reviewing to get back into the second of a series story. In fact, I had to re-plot. In review, I also saw that the POV of one protagonist needed to be stronger and more frequent. I also made that in my editing notes. Then one of the elements needed more research. (Chickens. Raising chickens.)

Since this book is the second in the Basket Maker series, I was also setting up a third. That included being careful of introducing The character consistently throughout the book and what writers call "Holes". It also included making certain the major characters were in play throughout.

I've sketched out the bridge scene, the necessary components before leaving my desk for today. But if I can, a straight shot works the best for me. Just this time, Life and Novel Interruptus happened.

This Bridge thing works differently for individual writers. Sometimes writing past the scene you need to "bridge" actually swings the plot in a different direction. The "Bridge", if written, may hold the plot in its intended direction. But it never hurts to try new things, like trying to dictate more. :)

As I wrote in an earlier post, a story has a beat and a pulse, and writers use action/reaction within this method. If a Bridge does not break the momentum, that's good. If it throws the pulse off, that's not so good. I already know, that at this point, the previous scene needs to be shortened to focus on the real meat this particular BRIDGE scene provides. So shaping on either side of the Bridge scene needs to be considered in the edit.

Here's a question to consider in the Shape of the Story: Is it possible to use these tactics to provide that Bridge scene?: 1.) Drop that dead body into the story. 2.) Use a different POV or 3.) Begin a new chapter and filter in whatever scene is needed in the edit.

But I am trying that Bridge deal today, determined to move forward on a story that has waited through a few bumps. I've blocked out the major points, using all caps, you know. :) NOTE TO SELF: type stuff.

Since this is a series, I also keep in mind the character holes/development in the transition to the next book. Characters do grow, like babies, you know. :) We build them.

Usually my stories wait for me to unravel them, by the way. They seem to always be there, no matter the time or life between. Is that how they are for you?

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