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December 2014

Hitting the Wall.

If you've ever been a long-distance runner, and probably even if you haven't, I'm sure you've heard of this phenomenon called 'hitting the wall'. It's where you've depleted the glycogen in your body and have no energy to continue. While I've never physically had this happen to me, either as a runner or, now, a spinner, I've experienced the feeling of hitting walls in other areas of my life. Times when, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get better at something, or move past some emotional trauma in order to get on with life. Today, however, I'm using it to refer to what's been going on with my WIP, Fate's Apology.

It's a little different here though. I have all the stamina and desire in the world to continue, to finish, and to excel. But each time I try to break through to the end of the story's climax, I bash my face on this giant wall that's blocking my way. I feel like one of those little battery-operated plush penned pigs-n-puppies that you see outside toy stores or souvenir shops in airports, bumping again and again into the barrier that keeps them from tumbling off the table and onto the floor of freedom. The difference is that I can see why the toys can't escape. With myself, not so much.
 
I've read that if you become stuck in your story, it's likely because something is wrong with it. You've written yourself into a corner, or maybe a giant plot hole you didn't see coming has opened up ahead of you with no way around it. Planning is supposed to help prevent this from happening. Well, I planned, but still…here I am, same place in the story I've been at for the past month, with lots of writing being done but no progress being made. Instead, it's more like *type type type* "Wait, no, that sucks. *type type type*  "No, that's stupid." *type type type* Oh, come on, that character would never do that." *type type type* "Again with the guards blocking the way? It's ok for my characters to think that, but I shouldn't be. Booorrring!"

Uh-oh...WATCH OUT!!

Quick stop ahead!

*ouch*
 
So I went back to the basics of just outlining the scene. What's the end goal here? How do I reach that? How many people are involved? What are each of them doing along the way? Who lives? Who dies? Who kills? Who saves? It took an entire two days. Ugh.
 
With my re-outline in hand, I tried again. I had a running tally on how many people I was dealing with, where everyone was at any given time, and a change in decision of required vehicle. It was going well. And then it started all over again. *type type type* "Yes, that trick needs to be pulled out of the hat, but don't waste it on a lackey" *type type type* "You're going to strip the guy naked now? How is that going to help him get out of this mess?" *type type type* "Ok, I'm all for characters surprising me, but no way can he have LET all this happen. Gah!"
 
Oh no...WATCH OUT!!

Careful, it's going to hurt!

*$h!+*
 
What the frak was wrong? Why, for the love of Valosh, could I not get my protagonist through the climax without her turning into a dopey dullard running around in clichéd circles?
 
Then it hit me. She's had to face down every obstacle but one: herself. She hasn't had to do the one thing that rips her heart to shreds, but is the only thing that will save it in the end. And the reason I didn't know that is because she never had the chance to tell me, because it happens in the beginning of the story, which I still need to add on the re-write. You see, I swore once I realized the book begins too late in the story that I wasn't going to stop, go back, and add all the beginning stuff until I get to the end. But I can't get to the end without it. It's not that the story sucks, it's that not enough of it has been told in order to finish.
 
Hey, look!

I'll get past this, even if I have to crawl!

*Snoopy dance*
 
With this knowledge in hand, I did NOT stop and write the beginning. I placed in my mind what that beginning is, then I re-outlined the climax. It took one twenty-minute lunch break to get the basics, and a second to fill in some details. All that's left is the position-mapping and body count, which I've learned isn't what makes this scene important. Sure, I need to know those details, but more importantly I need to know exactly what it is my characters are overcoming in order to win. It's not just the bad guys. It's themselves.

*whew* NOW I can see the end again. Outta my way, walls. I have a story to finish!