I am lucky enough to meet weekly with a great group of writers at the DFW Writer’s Workshop. And while I learn a lot at critique sessions, some of the most important things I’ve learned about writing come from sitting around at IHOP after our Wednesday meetings. Gabbing about life, solving the world’s problems, and most importantly, discussing how to make our writing suck less.
I know y’all would love to be a fly on the wall during these gab sessions, so here begins a series of writing tips that I’m going to call iLessons. Not because they have anything to do with Apple (other than being written on one), but because these pearls of wisdom were discussed over pancakes and too much coffee.
Lesson One: Skip to the End
This was actually one of the very first pieces of advice from my BFF Candace Havens. I never thought I would be one of those “out of order” writers. I am all about things happening in the right order. So I pretty much disregarded this advice until I found myself in the middle of Prom Dates From Hell, writing in circles and just digging myself deeper.
So I skipped ahead. To that pivotal moment in the plot when the hero has gathered all the clues and metaphorical loot she needs, and is at the threshold to the last dungeon, where the Big Boss Fight awaits. In Buffy terms, it’s that scene in Giles’ library right before the shot of B. and the Scooby gang walking in slow motion down the school corridor to take on the monster of the week.
By the time I’ve roughed in the climax, I know what clues my heroine needs to make the final connections, and also the emotional point I need to get her to in order to make her almost final leap into the fire. So I know exactly what I have to write to bridge that gap. I have a target, and I stop second guessing myself.
So when I hit that point where I’m going in circles and not advancing the plot, or I don’t know what happens next, I skip ahead to the next thing I *am* sure about, and (above all) keep writing.