I mean, literally, take a hike. Or a walk.
Do it alone… or do it with someone to whom you can talk through your story.
Story planning is hard. Maybe not at first, but soon you’ll have more elements than you bargained for competing for airtime, and for a while it’ll sound like a small crowd screaming in your ear.
Stepping into this story planning challenge is the key to emerging from it.
The challenge is the reason so many writers abandon story planning right here and rationalize that, hell, I’ll just write the dang thing and it’ll all work out as I go, it’ll come to me.
Doubtful. And if it does, then the real challenge appears, albiet silently and without immediate consequence: you’ll have to rewrite the shifts-in-real-time story before it’ll work… if, in fact, implementing huge new ideas and direction-changes is what happens to you mid-draft.
Like a shot of heroin, it’ll feel good at first… right before it kills you.
The goal of story planning is to avoid game-changing, mid-draft direction changes or shifts that forget their story-bound roots. To optimize the best creative choices and direction beforehand, and to make sure they are in alignment with the underlying principles of storytelling that have driven the craft for as long as dramatic, character-centric stories have been appearing as books and movies.
So here’s the tip: embrace the confusion.
Swim in it. And… take pause to consider where you are, what remains unaddressed… and then fix it.
I’ve found that talking through pauses in my progress — it’s not writer’s block because we’re not writing yet, but it’s similar, because writer’s block is actually a symptom of a story that isn’t working like you’d thought or hoped it would — and just plain allowing the natural cognitive processes of having thrown balls into the air to do their thing and begin to land in places that you hadn’t considered before.
You’ll be amazed at how many story problems and dead ends you can overcome simply by telling your story, in sequence, to someone who can keep quiet enough to allow you to encounter your own roadblock.
Come back to this tip as required. Chances are you’ll need to hit the pause button more than once in your story planning process.
Here’s a major BONUS TIP, in the form of a visual.
Many Storyfix readers say this is the most power thing they’ve ever encountered as they learned about storytelling, because it’s all in one spot, in the form of… get ready for it… a circus tent.
Go to this link, and then be patient, as this file takes a while to load: http://storyfix.com/the-big-daddy-of-story-structure-visual-prompts.
This is the structure you are endeavoring to populate with your story ideas. Just make sure you don’t leave half your tent empty, or don’t stuff too many elements into any one corner to an extent the whole thing topples to the side. (Special thanks to Rachel Savage for creating this wonderful tool.)
Let the Big Show begin.