You’re busy writing out your plan for your next story.
It’s going well.
You have your characters sorted, a main plot and a subplot or three. You’ve weaving and twisting them together, breaking them down into chapters or scenes, but you hit upon a problem.
You know where you’re headed, but you’re stuck with how to get from one point to the next.
There’s a big gap in your story’s plan.
For some this would be enough to stop them from beginning their story.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
How to fill those gaps without panicking
Whether you want to fill up those gaps before you start writing or during, there’s no need to panic about them.
You can figure out what goes in those gaps with a bit of hard work.
Take some time and…
- Take a short break.
Go for a walk, have a shower, get out into the world and think your plot through. Take inspiration from the world around you, think through your characters’ back stories. The right idea might come to you.
- Brainstorm with a friend.
If you have the time, try taking a trusted friend to a coffee shop, putting a drink and cake in front of them and then talk at them about your story until the right idea falls into place (or they magically say exactly the right thing, which happens a LOT).
- Brainstorm by yourself.
If you don’t have time for this and you want to get back to writing, then write down as many ideas as you can. Even the stupid ones. Just get them all out of your head. Focus on the later ideas (as they won’t be quite so obvious) and try mixing ideas together.
Finding inspiration to fill the gaps
There really is no need to worry about having gaps in your story plan, even if you start writing, hit those gaps and still don’t know what happens.
I’ve had it happen a lot, and I know best-selling authors who have complained about this happening to them.
When brainstorming to fill those gaps, consider these questions:
- What’s your character’s back story? What have you forgotten to include?
- If you’re already writing, has anything new sprung up from your characters that you haven’t woven into the plot yet?
- Is there an event missing to explain how your characters get from point A to point B?
- Or has an event just happened? If so, what’s the fallout from that event? How does it tie into what you want to happen afterwards?
- Is there someone missing? Do you need a new character? (This happened to me once. It was infuriating because it meant going back and rewriting most of the book but it was so worth it.)
- Do you need another subplot to help gel the main plot together? Subplots can do wonders for the middle of a novel.
- What are all the possibilities that could happen? Which one of these would you, as a reader, least expect?
- Is there anything that you can turn on its head, make a plot twist or the opposite of what might be expected?
- Are your characters fully developed? It might be that you need something a little more from them.
- Take a look at what’s going on around the gaps. If it’s all action, consider a quieter scene. If it’s all a bit quiet, try putting a large obstacle in the way or a big event and see how your characters react.
- Work backwards. If you have your ending, ask how that happened, where your characters were and why they were doing what they were doing. More important, how were they feeling at the time?
Creating a plan for your story is the best way to be a productive writer.
It means you don’t have to stare at a blank page wondering what happens next because you’ve already worked that out. You can just sit down and start writing straight away.
Don’t let gaps in your plan stop you from writing.
If you’re struggling to fill them, just get writing. If the gaps haven’t filled themselves by the time you get to them, then it’s time to start brainstorming.
And never be afraid to ask for help.
Sometimes, all it takes is a little chat and some cake.