But what if…
I think every author has an outline of the story he or she wants to share with the readers, whether it’s sketched on a piece of paper or just kept in their minds. An outline is always a good idea if you want to stay organized because it helps to keep you on track of the plot, manage the main idea and it’s showing you what you want to achieve in the end.
But, sometimes, the outline could also be a barrier that can cause you to experience a loss of ideas and momentum, the famous “writer’s block‘ so many authors talk about. How can something meant to help you write be a stopper? You would ask. Simple. It is because you allow yourself to be trapped inside the boundaries you yourself have established at the beginning of the project. What you should understand is that every project must not be a fixed one – you should always allow space for growth, for development.
It is useful if, from time to time, you stop and ask yourself this question ‘But what if…?‘. This will force you to think about situations and subplots that could considerably advance your story.
Challenge your characters, make them react, make them evolve. But what if my hero would meet an old friend who questions his current behavior? How would my hero react? What will he gain from this experience? Will he be thrown back or will he still push forward in his intentions? How would my story turn in this case?… You will see that by addressing these questions you may move outside your intended plot, but this will contribute to the evolving of your characters and also your story.
Trust me, just step back a little and ask yourself ‘But what if…?‘ type of questions. Let yourself be an observer of the story, not the almighty God of Creation. The story has a flow of its own and your characters know how to act and react and it’s a shame to interfere. You should be a Director, not a Dictator. This means that you should trust your characters, force yourself to see the story through their eyes. It will make you get down and dirty but your story will gain in realism and your characters will be more believable.
Of course, you must not overdo it, otherwise you’ll find yourself tangled inside an ocean of subplots and side-stories and you will lose perspective. You should always balance your main plot and your subplots, or your readers interest will dwindle. It is just like cooking: a dish without salt and pepper is insipid and weak, a dish with too many spices is not edible. The right amount of spices is a delight!
I hope this was useful. Enjoy and Share!
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