I’m almost finished with the first draft of the Screwing Up Time sequel. But I hit the final chapters and ran into a brick wall. Not that I didn’t know what was going to happen, I did. I know the final solution, but it was all the sub-plots that stymied me. Because I’m a “pantser,” I write as the characters lead, and since the characters all have their own agendas, there are a lot of sub-plot threads that all need to come together at the end. Not an easy solution.
So here’s what I do. I list all the plot issues in a notebook with a fountain pen. (It’s about the only time I write longhand besides editing.) Then I figure out which plot threads fit together. Afterwards, I brainstorm solutions. Several pages later, I arrive at the legitimate possibilities. Then I hone them. This is always a scary part of the novel for me. What if I can’t figure out an answer for all the sub-plot twists? This is my version of writer’s block. But once things start to fit together, it’s also the most exciting part. It’s not until the end that some characters reveal their hidden motives. For example, in the sequel Granddad spends a lot of time studying ancient texts and is very furtive. But I didn’t know why. I knew he was hiding something. But since I write from Mark’s perspective I didn’t know what it was. Now that I’m at the climax, Granddad finally reveals what he’s been hiding. I was shocked—just as shocked as Mark. Of course, now I get to go back into the text and hide bits of information, a bread crumb trail of clues that hopefully will make you wonder what’s going on and still say “Oh, I should have seen that coming” when the reveal happens.