How to Avoid Hitting the Wall

I mentioned in my last post that we were going to talk about how to avoid writer’s block.  Dramatica Theory provides one method for avoiding this daunting problem.

First we need to address why writer’s block occurs.  We can generally group writers into two camps; pantsters and plotters.

A pantster literally writes from the seat of their pants.  The great thing about this method is that it allows the story to develop organically, allowing it to take on a life of its own and go in unexpected and exciting directions.  The problem? Chapter 4, Jerry hefted his torque wrench and . . . uh . . . oh, dang.  Now what?  Yep, losing track of where the story is going.

A plotter has a different problem.  Their traditional problem is . . . they never START!  They design their world, develop every language for each race that inhabits it, the world topography comes next followed by the history of each race and the names of all of their rulers and . . .

Well, you get the point.  Traditionally they just never get around to it.  Ever have a friend that took 25 years to write their book?  And is still writing?

So how do we avoid these problems?  By a combination of plotting and pantsting.  There are 8 easy steps that are very nicely outlined by Glen Strathy on his website  Just answer these simple(ish) questions and after about 2 hours of plotting, you’re off and writing!

  1. Develop a story goal.  Remember this!?  No?  Oh . . . I’m sad now.
  2. Consider a consequence.  This is simply what happens if the characters don’t manage to achieve the story goal.  And remember, not every story has to have a happy ending where the characters achieve all their dreams or wishes (or even survive).
  3. Determine the requirements.  What will it take for the characters to achieve their goal?  This gives you the things you can uses to fill in the gaps.
  4. Give the reader some forewarnings.  These are the counterparts to requirements and they give the reader that little something extra, just a little hint that the characters might not reach the goal.  Oh no, they’ll never get the Emperor!
  5. What will be the costs?  Don’t you hate when the hero achieves everything without losing anything?  Yeah, me to.  What’s the cost of the characters achieving their goals?
  6. But there should be Dividends.  These are the hints that they characters will achieve the goal.  Those little victories like slaying the ogres before attacking the dragon.
  7. Prerequisites.  These are the things that need to happen first for the requirements to happen.  As Stewie Griffin would say, “A little something special?  Flesh out those characters a little more?”  Basically, they have to kill the ogre to get the key to the door to fight the dragon.  The prerequisite is needing to get the key.
  8. Preconditions.  These are nice little forewarnings, fun little things that are minor impediments to the characters.  For example, the characters have to wait until Tuesday because the ogre won’t show up for tacos until  Taco Tuesday (he’s broke).

Just give yourself time to fill out several different types of each item above.  A nice little list of Prerequisites, some good forewarnings.  After an hour or so, you have will have nice skeleton for your story and . . . Pantsters rejoice!  You can fill in the gaps with prose!

Keep in mind, these methods work great for me, but everyone needs to find what works best for them.  For more detailed information on making a nice plot outline, just check out the following link:

So now you know how to use Dramatica to create a plot outline, characters and a good Grand Argument.  Wanna know how I used it to write The Seraphim Protocol?  Okay, I will explain . . . next time.


About Webgoji

I am a member of the Kansas Writers Association and Wichita Writers Guild. I have successfully completed National Novel Writing Month and have completed 3 different novels. My first novel "The Fay Dragon Chronicles" unfortunately wasn't published, but I am currently trying to get my second book "The Seraphim Protocol" published. View all posts by Webgoji

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