I’ve been using Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat beat sheet to plot my WIP.
Number 12 of 15 beats is the “Dark Night of the Soul” moment.
This is “the darkness before the dawn. It is the point, as the name suggests, that is the darkness right before the dawn. It is the point before the hero reaches way, deep down and pulls out that last, best idea that will save himself and everyone around him. But at that moment, that idea is nowhere in sight.”
-Save the Cat by Blake Snyder)
I always seem to have that moment – or moments – in writing also. That moment when I don’t know what the heck to write next. The moment when all doubt bubbles up and makes everything seem trivial and pointless and just… bad.
But Blake knows this. His suggestions include having a nice meal, getting a good sleep and letting your brain work over night. He also says, “If you really take the time and push yourself, surround yourself with a writers group who will tell you the truth, then your head might explode for a day or two but in the long run your story will work.”
This happened to me last night. Yay! This week I’ve been working on revising a scene. I knew it wasn’t working, but I didn’t know why. It’s a big moment that takes my character from one place to another very different one. The shift is crucial to the rest of the plot. It felt like the right things were happening and in the right place. There was action. Important dialogue.
Frustration hit. Despair.
But then this morning I woke up and realized what was wrong – the WHY. I’d forgotten about my character’s deepest desire. THAT was really why she acted the way she did.
Joy! Even if it’s a dark moment for her, I get to have a moment of yay.
For those of you in the midst of head explosions, here are some of the ways that Blake Snyder (in Save the Cat Strikes Back) says fear, hesitancy, lack of confidence – and faith – may bog down your plot:
- Spidering: When a writer doesn’t stick to the premise. All sorts of distracting extra stories take hold – making the story expand sideways, instead of moving forward.
- Half-stepping: The story moves forward with small and insignificant steps. Your hero is tip-toeing when he/she should be running and leaping.
- Blurry Beats: The moments are there, but so quiet, so soft, so indefinite, we can’t see them. The character slips into Act Two.
Wishing you head explosions followed by joy,
Sarah Wones Tomp
WRITING ON THE SIDEWALK
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