Novel Writing, Writers on Writing

How to get your story line back on track

Master’s Thesis
Should I put my story line aside for now and concentrate on what I need to accomplish for thesis? | Master’s Thesis (Photo credit: hsivonen)

I’ve been zipping through the story line of my novel for the past couple of months in an effort to get the entire story on the page without worrying about revisions. I’ve hit 46,472 words, and I’ve been feeling pretty good about the whole thing. That is, until a few days ago when I got the idea that my story line had somehow veered away from where I wanted it to go.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m open to changing direction when it’s appropriate. However, it seems like this time I have turned down a dead-end. The story train has derailed, and I’m left wondering how to pick up the pieces of the train wreck and put it back on the right track.

First of all, I should probably advise you that I have no idea how to get a trained-wrecked story line back on track. This is new territory for me, so I am currently in the process of exploring my options. Here are a few of the tactics I am considering:

  • Sit down and read the entire story from start to where-I-left-off in an effort to figure out where I went wrong.
  • Put the story line aside for a while and start working on revisions of earlier chapters: Once I have found answers to some of the questions I’ve been pondering from the earlier chapters, maybe the right path will become evident.
  • Coerce a few of my writerly friends into reading what I’ve written so far and giving me some feedback.

Now, where to start? Which of these might be most effective/efficient? Part of me wants so badly to just get this story on the page. But, not at the expense of the overall story.

I must also consider the fact that I am starting my thesis semester at school in a couple of weeks and need to start thinking about what I need to get done so I can graduate in May. If thesis is my top priority, then I should probably start working on revisions. I have already hit my minimum page requirement, so the only thing left to do for thesis is to make those pages good.

Either way, I know it would also be a good idea to obtain quality feedback from people I trust. I have found when all else fails, a productive workshop always shakes a few bricks free from my blocked brain.

What do you think? What do you do when your story line seems to be heading nowhere? Please share your ideas in the comments below.

~Mandy Webster

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5 thoughts on “How to get your story line back on track”

  1. Maybe a combo? Perhaps go back and re-read, then change some things that you would like to change, and see if some of those revisions may answer questions you are struggling with?

  2. I’m definitely in the same place. I decided to edit the first few chapters hoping something would come to me. Now I’m stuck on that too. Let me know what you come up with. Editing my own work is definitely not my strong suit. I’d rather edit for a friend.

  3. Prepping for thesis is helping. I have to make an outline of my entire project, and that has helped me stop and think about where I want my story to go. I figured out that a(nother!) new character I added pulled the story away from where I wanted it to go, so I need to go back about 4 chapters, write him out of the story, and move forward from there. This is going to be a fun semester!

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