Stuck Plot

I was reading something on a forum the other day about getting plot ideas and about getting stuck in a rut and not being able to climb out. I don’t do much outlining so if I get in a similar situation it can get tricky. Don’t panic! If you don’t outline then the way to get out of that rut is to write your way out. Take the particular character you are dealing with and plonk them in a setting. It doesn’t really matter what the setting is – familiar or strange, relaxing or stressful. Then start writing. For me the act of writing tends to produce something useful. I don’t know how it happens, but it is like my muse pops out from where she has been hiding and says “Hey! Try this!”

To be clear, the piece of writing that results doesn’t have to be used. In fact in most case it gets shoved in my snippets bin. But in nine case out of ten a plot element, a new character or some trait emerges and can be used later on.

I think this is why I don’t like outlining: I find the process of how these ideas come to life quite incredible and when I outline it all seems a bit too clinical.

Try it, put your character in a:

Minor car crash
Doctors surgery
Swimming pool
Divorce court
Hospital bedside

and see what happens. Sometimes the more ordinary the situation the better, possibly because if you are trying to describe your character going shopping all the stress of trying to work up plot points has gone allowing free rein for writing. Then, bingo! Out pops a new baby you can nurture and help grow.


  1. Thanks for this post! This is such perfect timing for me. I am writing my very first book and the topic of outlining has come up many times. I don't outline and when I try to it actually shuts me down. So I'm glad to hear that others don't go this route.

  2. It is easy to get intimidated by people who outline. There was a post the other day on a forum (Kindle Boards, I think) and the person said they had outlined their next three books… but it doesn't necessarily mean they are a better writer than those of us who haven't a clue what is going to happen in the next chapter, let alone the next book!

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