4/5/07 — A bit confused today on exactly how I to handle the two main characters falling into a crevasse in my novel, STORM MOUNTAIN, it was clear I needed to step back and look at the big picture. Once again I resorted to the following handy aid that helps me think through where to go with the story:
First I made sure I knew what the story problem is, which in this case was a no-brainer: they’re stuck 30 feet down a gaping crack in a glacier. AND one of them — not going to reveal who — has a dislocated shoulder from the fall and is screaming in pain.
Once I had the problem clearly identified, I drew a large T on a piece of paper. In the upper left hand corner I wrote “Action” and in the upper right hand corner I wrote “Obstacle.”
Below, in the “Action” column, I then brainstormed possible actions that the main character might take to solve the problem. For example: freak out and try to dial 911 on a cell phone.
Then, directly to the right in the “Obstacle” column, I listed something that would obstruct this action, ie: no service down in a crevasse.
OK, I thought, good enough, but what next? Give up?
Wouldn’t make much of a story would it? So I tried another action, just like you’d try in real life.
Then countered it with another obstacle. And so on. Until I had a possible scenario laid out — a kind of list, or map — for how the plot might progress.
Tomorrow I’ll see if it will actually work. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Sometimes back to the T chart.
All of which may seem overly left brained to some of you. But, hey, whatever works, and this works for me. If you get stuck on a story, give it a try!