Plot-Holes: Writing out of a Rut

As I stared into the depths of my laptop yesterday, determined to write something substantial before succumbing to nine hours of football, I finally accepted the humiliating truth: I’ve reached the dreaded mid-plot slump in “Blue Karma”. The draft is about halfway done. All the story threads are in place, and I have to figure out precisely how to tie them together.

I know the ending, of course — I strongly advocate the old writer’s adage of “begin with the end in mind” — just not exactly how to get there. It’s like driving on a highway overpass and seeing your destination below: it’s so close you can see it, which makes it all the more maddening that you don’t know what specific routes will get you there. In hopes of nudging my creativity back on track, I reminded myself of plot mechanics. There’s a lovely geometry to it that I always find encouraging.

Standard plot diagram, endemic to middle school creative writing classes

Except that’s not really what plots look like to me. Mine go something like this:

My general road map for plots

See that pesky dip in the middle? The interlude between acts, just before we begin escalating for the final showdown? If a plot diagram is analogous to a road map, that spot is the wicked pothole just waiting to blow out your tire and send you spinning off course (can we call it a plot-hole?).

If we examine the plot-hole area more closely, it actually looks like this:

How I feel about my plot outline when I hit the middle

Part of this is, admittedly, my own fault: I prefer sleek, tightly plotted tales without a lot of extraneous scenes, which isn’t the most forgiving model for story development. I hope critics and fans alike will one day respond to this unfortunate obsession with due enthusiasm. But at present, it’s keeping me up at night. If I can’t figure out a way forward by this weekend, I’ll just move on to writing the end and worry about hitching up the two story pieces later! No one needs to know it wasn’t written in chronological order. It’ll be our dirty little secret.

Shh.

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